Thursday, September 19, 2013

Nepal: Suspect detained in Nepal four years after journalist's murder


Freedom Forum
Four years after the incident, on September 16, 2013, the Police arrested Umesh Yadav, a suspect in the murder of Uma Singh. Singh was a Janakpur-based journalist, from Dhangadhi, the headquarters of Kailali, a district in the far western region of Nepal.

A Nepal Police team in Kailali detected the whereabouts of murder suspect Yadav and detained him at the Dhangadhi bazaar.

Singh, a reporter with local FM radio station Janakpur Today, was hacked to death on 11 January 2009 in Janakpur, a city on the southern plain of eastern Nepal. She mainly reported on issues linked to women's rights and was vocal against the dowry system rife in the southern plain (Tarai) of the country.

Earlier, on 11 June 2011, the Dhanusha District Court had sentenced Lalita Singh and Nemlal Paswan to life in prison for killing Singh.

Freedom Forum welcomes the recent arrest of the suspect and urges the authorities to take stringent action against him.

Freedom Forum Chairperson Taranath Dahal commented, "The arrest of the murder suspect of scribe Uma Singh, though delayed, is a very laudable act by the police authority. It is very helpful in terms of minimizing impunity and deterring further crimes. It also provides some relief to the family of the victim journalist and gives a moral boost to journalists working in difficult circumstances in Nepal."

Reporter attacked

In a separate incident, on September 15, cadres of the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist attacked journalist Dev Raj KC, a reporter with the local Araniko TV station, based in Kavre, at Banepa, a town near the Kathmandu Valley.

According to Keshav Poudel, a reporter with the Rajdhani daily from Kavre, reporter KC was attacked by the CPN-Maoist cadres while reporting on a banda (general shutdown) called by the party. He received a minor injury to his forehead, Mr Poudel added.

The Maoist cadres had torched a bus at Banepa, reasoning it defied the banda they had convened. The incident occurred while the reporter was covering the incident.

The recent trend of press freedom violations indicates that Banepa has turned into a place where journalists are frequently targeted. Freedom Forum condemns the attack and urges the authority concerned to take action against the culprit.

Editor and reporter threatened

An unknown individual threatened to take action against Shambhu Shrestha, Chief Editor of the Drishti weekly, over a report in the weekly published on September 3.

In a separate incident, cadres of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) threatened to assault reporter Purna Prasad Neupane on September 9. Neupane reports from Okhaldhunga, a hilly district in the eastern part of Nepal, for the Commander Post daily published in the capital city.

According to Neupane, the UCPN (Maoist) supporters told him, "Why did you write news [items] about our party? We can attack you at any time."

Freedom Forum condemns both incidents whereby the rights of journalists are suppressed. The threats hinder the free flow of information and citizens' right to information. The concerned authorities need to provide security to the journalists to fend off any possible attacks.