Freedom Forum is alarmed by the arrest of photo journalist Barsha Shah of dessanchar.com, a prominent online news portal. She has been detained by police for three hours for taking photos of a protest outside the President Office on December 13, Thursday.
According to FF representative for Province 3, Ashok Dahal, Police booked her minutes after she took photos of four protesters trying to gift a toy car to President Bidya Devi Bhandari as their protest against the government decision to buy expensive car to the head of state.
"A police patrol copped her even after she introduced herself as journalist and not the protester and even showed press identity card to the cop", shared Shah, talking to representative Dahal.
“I was waiting for bus after the protesters were returned from the entrance gate of president office by the security. A police team came and asked me to show pictures I had captured outside the gate. I introduced them as a journalist and said that I can show my identity card but didn't show the photos I had clicked. Sub-Inspector Yam Paudel asked others to catch me and they also snatched my phone when I tried to informed the incident at my office,” said journalist Shah.
They also used humiliating words to me and said that merely possessing press card doesn’t make me journalist.
Shah was taken to the Maharagunj police office after half an hour on police van and released only after three hours of interrogation. She got her phone back only after DSP visited the office.
“I had to wait for three hours to get released because Chief of the police was outside. When DSP came back he apologized for what happened and stated that he was not aware about the incident,” she shared.
Shah has swelling mark on her neck due to police manhandling during her arrest.
Freedom Forum vehemently condemns the incident as it is sheer violation of press freedom. At a time where government intolerance towards the journalists is increasing, this incident targeting the female journalists disowns government competency on guarantee of press freedom in the country. FF urges the concerned authority to investigate the issue seriously and strongly recommend the government agencies to respect, protect and ensure rights of the journalists during the reporting.
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