latest threats have been directed at
Shah, a Nepali Muslim, had been accused in the past by the Indian authorities of being involved with underworld figures like Dawood Ibrahim, whom they have linked to Pakistani intelligence. Shah always denied these allegations but in 2004, his Space Time network was vandalized in riots and he closed down his newspapers.
Nepal’s largest circulation newspaper, Kantipur, and its English sister publication, The Kathmandu Post, had been drawing parallels between the Shah’s murder and one that took place 11 years ago. An Indian gangster who fell out with Ibrahim, Chhota Rajan, said he had killed a member of parliament because of his “anti-Indian” activities.
Sudheer Sharma, Kantipur’s editor, and Akhilesh Sharma of The Kathmandu Post received threats by phone last week to stop pursuing the story. The publisher of the two papers, Kailash Sirohiya was also reportedly threatened by e-mail.
Nepali media has been citing suspicious murders in recent weeks of people
suspected of using
the past three years,
The ensuing political instability and lawlessness has criminalized politics and politicized crime. Local journalists are often caught in the crossfire. There have been four brutal murders or disappearances of journalists in the past three years, according to CPJ research, mostly along the country’s southern plains, and, in most cases, former Maoist rebels are suspected of being involved. Four people have been arrested in the murder of radio journalist Uma Singh in January 2009, but they are thought to be small fry. In none of the other cases has anyone been tried or brought to justice.
Nepal’s impunity has led to journalists regularly being threatened or attacked, radio stations vandalized, delivery vans torched. After the attack on Uma Singh, many women journalists left the profession. Reporters are now threatened for not broadcasting press releases, not attending press conferences, reporting on corruption in contracts, naming those involved in crime, and even for not giving enough prominence to rallies.
All this has resulted in rampant self-censorship: Reporters readily admit that they just don’t report on certain subjects anymore, and this includes the local correspondents of national TV, radio or newspapers.
who used to wear their press IDs around their necks, or photographers
who wore green vests, have stopped doing so. But despite this, journalists in
the districts still play a mediatory role in local disputes, in humanitarian
interventions, and even in negotiating with criminals during kidnappings.
Local journalists feel there is a lot more to the profession than just
reporting, and they take their role as members of civil society seriously. One
editor in eastern
constraints, there are many courageous reporters, editors, and broadcasters in
the districts who regularly cover wrongdoing and expose corruption. At great
personal risk, Nepali journalists have been fulfilling the public service role
and respecting the public’s right to know. The kind of threats in
The free press in
Dixit is the publisher of the English-language Nepali Times weekly