KATHMANDU, May 20: Media fraternity has condemned a series of attacks on journalists and media persons and vehicles belonging to them and media houses during Sunday´s shutdown called by the Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN).
Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) General Secretary Om Sharma flayed the attacks against journalists, saying the assaults were pre-meditated. He was also asked the agitators to stop launching attacks on the press and warned that if they don’t mend their ways, they have only to lose.
Revolutionary Journalists Association Chairman Maheswhowr Dahal has urged stakeholders to refrain from attacking journalists on field collecting the news. Nepal Press Union Chairman Kiran Pokharel has said such attacks would only weaken their agitation.
Press Chautari Vice-chairman Rajendra Aryal said a series of attack against journalists and media persons have invited a critical situation and demanded such attacks be stopped immediately.
Journalists have also planned a protest rally starting from Maitighar. NEFIN General Secretary Ang Kaji Sherpa, during a program in Reporters Club in the capital, warned that they would counter the rallies.
According to a TV report, Sherpa also gave life threat to Club chairman Rishi Dhamala, charging him that Dhamala never gave importance to indigenous nationalities´ concerns while organizing interactions at his club.
In a series of attacks against journalists today, banda enforcers have vandalized the Republica daily´s van (Bhe 1 Cha 1083) while it was returning after delivering copies of the newspaper from Nepalgunj to Butwal.
Similarly, the vehicles of the Kantipur Publication have been vandalized in Budhanagar and Jorpati early morning. The strike enforcers have also attacked a vehicle belonging to Karobar Daily in Kupondole. They have destroyed a van of Kantipur TV (Ba 9 Cha 5537) in Baneshwor and torched a motorcycle (Ba 20 Pa 3899) of the Himalayan Television cameraman YP Ghimire in Gwarko.
They have also roughed up Saral Gurung, Satish Subedi, Akkal Kunwar and Punya Dhamal of Sagarmatha Television. They attacked with iron rods and injured Dinesh Gautam, a cameraman of Citizens FM 94, and vandalized his motorcycle in Boudha.
Likewise, NEFIN activists manhandled journalists Radheshyam Dahal, Shakti Karki and Prakash Kattel Biku Tamang near Sanepa Chowk and set in fire two motorcycles that they were riding on.
In Langankhel, banda enforcers misbehaved with Upendra Sharma, editor of the Mukti weekly and vandalized his motorcycle. In Chabahil, a group of strike enforcers misbehaved with Rajesh Chamling and Shambu Prasai of Gorkhapatra and Bijay Chamling of Rajdhani daily.
Normal life has been crippled all across the country including in the capital on the first day of the three-day banda called by the Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN) on Sunday.
Academic institutions, market places and shops have remained closed and transport services have come to a complete halt due to the strike. The Broader Madhesi Front has also extended its support to today’s banda.
The general strike has been called demanding scrapping of the 11-state model that does not have names and clear delineation, federalism based on identity and guarantee of rights of indigenous people in the new constitution.
Banda enforcers have not spared vehicles even belonging to hospital, diplomatic missions and human rights organizations.
Earlier on, NEFIN Chairman Raj Kumar Lekhi, issuing a press statement, had urged to provide unhindered passage to vehicles belonging to emergency services providers.
PM calls on agitators for talks
Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai has urged the agitating NFIN to come for talks on Sunday.
He also condemned attacks by banda enforcers on media persons and their vehicles. Band enforcers have manhandled some media persons and vandalized several vehicles belonging to them and media houses at various places during today´s banda.
The government has also invited the Joint Tharuwan Struggle Committee to come for talks. The committee has been enforcing banda in 22 western Tarai districts since past several days, demanding a separate state.
Meanwhile, talks between the National Muslim Struggle Committee and the government is underway at the peace and reconstruction ministry in Singha Durbar.
NEFIN chairman Lekhi asks agitators to refrain from attack on the press
NEFIN chairman Lekhi has said they have respect for rights of media persons to freely collect and disseminate news. He has also asked agitating NEFIN activists to keep restraint and not get swayed by the ´government´s conspiracy´ to disgrace the agitation, by being involved in attack and vandalism against the press.republica