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
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.
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific
on +612 9333 0919
represents over 600,000 journalists in 125 countries