Nepal Government Urged to Act on Killings and Threats Against Media

The International Federation

of Journalists (IFJ) calls on Nepal’s Government to act immediately to protect

journalists facing increasing attacks and threats in Nepal’s Tarai region,

following the murder of Today media group chairman Arun Singhaniya on March 1

and threats against other journalists in recent days.

 

According to the

Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ), an IFJ-affiliate, Singhaniya was shot

dead in the south-eastern Nepali

town of Janakpur as he returned home from celebrating the festival of Holi.

 

News reports indicate that two local

armed groups – the Tarai Janatantrik Party (Madesh) and the Janatantrik Tarai

Mukti Morcha – claimed responsibility. The killing is believed to be linked to Singhaniya’s

opposition to the development of the Tarai,

or Nepal’s lower southern plains.

 

On March 2, a threat was made

against Janakpur Today editor Brij

Kumar Yadav. The FNJ said in a statement that the central chairman of the Terai

Janatantrik Party (Madhesh), Mukesh Chaudhary aka Arjun Singh, called a journalist

attending a meeting of the FNJ’s Dhanusha chapter and threatened to kill Yadav

within a week. The call was made from an Indian number.

 

Arjun Singh was previously associated

with Tarai Ekta Parishad before reportedly breaking away recently to form his

own armed militia.

 

In 2009, police arrested several

activists of the Tarai Ekta Parishad in relation to the brutal murder of Uma Singh

in Janakpur in January 2009. Uma Singh worked for a radio station owned by

Singhaniya, and her reporting on the problems of land confiscation during the

years of the Maoist insurgency had reportedly irked local armed groups.

 

Meanwhile, another journalist, Manoj

Kumar Gharti, of the Naya Patrika daily, also reported receiving threats. An unidentified caller threatened to

kill Gharti over an article he wrote on Kathmandu-basedmedia entrepreneur

Jamim Shah, who was murdered last month.

 

“Journalists in Nepal’s

southern plains are contending with serious threats and targeted violence amid deteriorating

security in the region,” IFJ Asia-Pacific

Director Jacqueline Park said. “The Government must direct its authorities to conduct

full and immediate investigations into violence against media personnel, and take

comprehensive action to ensure local media is able to conduct its work in the

public interest.”

 

The IFJ has been told by local

sources that many of the armed groups in the Tarai are sheltered and protected

by gangs operating across the border in India, and use the open border

between the two countries to pursue their agendas.

 

In this connection, the IFJ also

calls upon authorities in India,

notably in the eastern state of Bihar, to show

appropriate urgency over the need to bring the disturbed security situation in

the Nepali Tarai under control.

 

For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +612 9333 0919

 

The IFJ

represents over 600,000 journalists in 125 countries