An unidentified armed group murdered Uma Singh, 26, a woman journalist for Radio Today in Janakpur, Dhanusha, a mid Tarai district of Nepal at around 12.30 AM tonight on January 11, Sunday. Journalist Singh died on the way while she was brought to the capital for treatment. She is the first Nepali woman journalist killed in the history of Nepali journalism. The group of 15-16 criminals entered into her room at Rajauriya of Janakpur yesterday night and attacked her with sharp knife (Khukris). The reason behind the incident has yet to be disclosed.
“It is the cowardice attack on journalist Singh and heinous crime against entire Nepali journalism. The incident of murder has ignited and disheartened journalists, that is intended to prevent journalists from writing and articulating expressions”, said Freedom Forum Chairperson Taranath Dahal. He added, “It is very saddening incident that we lost a journalist in the beginning of 2009 in the conflict zone of Nepal that unleashed fear and terror among journalists across the country”.
Journalist Singh has long been the conflict victim and remained vocal against CPN (Maoist). Her father and brother were allegedly abducted by Maoist during conflict before 4-5 years.
Freedom Forum asks the government to ensure security to journalist and carry out fair investigation and bring the criminals to justice at the earliest.
Freedom Forum welcomes the decision of the District Court Dhanusha to sentence Lalita Singh and Nemlal Paswan on life in prison for killing district-based journalist Uma Singh on June 11, 2011, two years after the murder.
Though late, it is a laudable decision the State authority made which has obviously spread the message that it is a step taken to end the culture of impunity in the country.
However, Umesh Yadav, aka Swamiji Yadav, who had owned up the responsibility of Singh’s murder, is still on the run.
Journalist Singh was hacked to death on Jan 11, 2009 in Janakpur, a city in the southern plain in the eastern part of the country. She had worked in an FM radio, Janakpur Today where she mainly reported on women's rights and spoke out against the dowry system.
Freedom Forum, as an organization working for the cause of media freedom, human rights, democracy and right to information in the country, further urges the government to immediately arrest the mastermind of the crime and bring him to book which would help end impunity in the country.
The police arrested two more persons in connection with Janakpur-based radio journalist Uma Singh's murder on January 24, Sunday night. The two arrested are Jagat Yadav of Sitapur and Bindeshwor Sah of Maheshpur Pipara of the district. They have been taken to Dhanusha Police Office for investigation. Uma Singh's mother Sushila Devi, elder sister Radha Devi, sister-in-law lalita Devi and nephew Abhjisekh Singh were also taken to Dhanusha police office on Saturday night.
Uma was murdered by group of armed persons at her residence in Janakpur on January 11. Police has already arrested two suspects-Mebilal Paswan and Shrawan Yadav-for the crime.
Journalists across the country on Sunday submitted broken pens to Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal through the Chief District Officers (CDOs) in various districts as a symbolic protests against the killing of journalist Uma Singh and others.
With a massive protest and pressure pouring in from journalists, political parties, civil society and general public to end growing impunity and bring perpetrators to justice, the police nabbed two persons from eastern tarai districts of Nepal for allegedly involved in the murder of Janakpur-based journalist Uma Singh on January 18, Sunday. The special police team deputed from Dhanusha district held Shrawan Yadav, regional member of ruling party CPN (Maoist), from Michaiya chowk of Siraha at around 3 PM Sunday while he was moving around the chowk, according to Dhanusha-based Superintendant of Police (SP) Yadav Raj Khanal. Arrested Yadav is a local of Rampur Birta-3 of Siraha district.
Meanwhile, police took control another prime suspect of journalist Singh’s murderer Mebilal Paswan affiliated to Tarai outfit Tarai Ekata Parishad in Lakkad VDC of Dhanusha. Police detained him during the cross fire in the place He is a local of same VDC,, ward 7. Police claimed that the murderers of Uma Singh would be made public within a week.
Singh, a Janakpur-based journalist at work in Radio Today, was attacked to death by an unidentified gang one week ago. On Thursday, the government declared her a journalist martyr and offered Rs 1 million to her family as compensation.
Meanwhile, the parliament on Sunday passed a commitment proposal on guaranteeing press freedom, taking legal action against those involved in attacks on media houses and journalists and providing compensation to the victims. It also calls for parliamentary monitoring on matters related to safety of journalists and media houses.
Main opposition Nepali Congress and two ruling allies, CPN (UML) and Madhesi Janadhikar Forum, had tabled the proposal.
Responding the queries put forth by lawmakers in yesterday’s meeting of the Legislature-Parliament, Minister for Krishna Bahadur Mahara said no stones woul be left unturned to take actions against the murderer and informed that further investigation into the murder was underway.
A massive protest from civilians was staged in the capital Kathmandu and other parts of the country to protest the killing of journalist Singh and threats to other media workers demanding the impunity to be ended and necessary measures to be taken to ensure security to journalists. Freedom Forum actively led the demonstration held in Kathmandu yesterday.
Journalists in various parts of the country launched agitation against the murder of Janakpur-based journalist Uma Singh demanding the government take stern actions against killers probing the incident, provide relief to her family, provide them with security as they are still being threatened and make a separate security mechanism in the Tarai for journalists.Sancharika Samuha and Women Working Journalists jointly organized a candle rally in the capital to protest killing of radio today journalist Singh. The journalists said the agitation would not be put off till the murderers of Singh were not booked to justice.
A preliminary probe into the incident concluded that it was a cold-blooded murder planned with the intention to take revenge. The probe committee made public its preliminary report after a field study at the incident site in Janakpur. Journalist Shiva Gaunle said, “The killing was planned as up to 15 persons were involved. Her body was cut into pieces. It shows she was killed to exact revenge”.
A team of journalists submitted memorandum to Constituent Assembly (CA) Chairperson Subas Nembang demanding an investigation into the incident by a parliamentary panel.
The FNJ Dhanusha decided to disrupt the administrative works at the District Administration Office on Thursday to protest the police failure to nab the killers.
Likewise, Nepalis living in Gulf also deplored the murder. Nepalis living in Qatar, Duwai and Sarjahna cities demanded the Nepal government arrest the murderers of scribe Singh and take harsh action.They also urged the concerned sectors to be watchful for the security threats to the journalists.Similarly, Rupandehi, Kapilvastu, Gulmi-UAE Society expressed condemnation over the murder.
The European Union deplored the murder of journalist Singh and called on the authorities to carry out a prompt and thorough investigation into her killing, identify those responsible for the killing and bring them to book.
A press statement issued by the Embassy of Finland in Kathmandu on behalf of the council said, “The government should be able to deliver a strong message that there will be no impunity for attacks against freedom of expression and independent media, nor for any other crimes.”
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