Freedom Forum has been alarmed over the statement of Birgunj Metropolitan City's Mayor Vijay Kumar Sarawagi to impose censorship on media. Birgunj lies in Province 2 of Nepal.
Mayor Sarawagi appealed to Province's Chief Minister Lalbabu Raut to enforce censorship on press and punish journalists as well as media houses for writing news about him amid a program.
According to FF representative Rajan Singh, Mayor Sarawagi made such statement on May 16 in response to the recent news about his involvement on illegal agreement to build Corona Hospital, irregularities on purchase and distribution of substandard relief materials to this regard.
Imposing threat and intimidation to journalists and media houses to hid irregularities is condemnable. It is not only the violation of press freedom but also ill efforts to cover up wrongdoing and to foment non-transparency in the wake of unprecedented threat already posed by the coronavirus.
Lately, there are reports of irregularities at various public offices at a time when the active media presence and watchdog role has subsided in the face of COVID-19.
FF therefore strongly urge Mayor Sarawagi not to threaten media house and journalists but work for their safety in crisis. The Mayor needs to withdraw this statement.
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