The Nepal government, caught in a major political crisis, displayed marked aggression towards the media on Sunday. Several mediamen were injured in police action and over a dozen arrested as they were protesting the government’s failure to rescue an abducted journalist.
Birendra Sah, a radio journalist, had been abducted by Maoists from Bara district last month and is untraced to date.
On Sunday, hundreds of journalists gathered at Singha Durbar, the seat of administration in Nepal, to protest the government’s failure to rescue Sah.
During the sit-in demonstration, the media persons shouted slogans demanding resignation of Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula and strong action against the Maoist cadres.
The police baton charged the media, injuring several journalists. Fourteen members of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) were arrested.
The journalists also staged a demonstration in front of the Prime Minister’s official residence at Baluwatar.
They criticized the police for failing to publicize Sah’s whereabouts.
Earlier, Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and Maoist chief Prachanda had promised to publish a white paper on Sah’s whereabouts.
The deadline for publication of the report has expired already.
Deputy Inspector-General of Nepal Police KB Rana said the police have been probing the case and would publicize the truth soon.
Police held Maoist’s Bara district chief Lal Bahadur Chaudhary responsible for Sah’s abduction.
A DNA test is being conducted on a mutilated body found at Amlekhgunj in Bara district on October 13, suspecting it to be Sah’s corpse.
Meanwhile, Sunday’s edition of Prateek daily, a local vernacular published from Birgunj, reported that the Sah was killed on October 4.
Maoist leader Kundan Phaujdar admitted that he had abducted Sah as per the party’s directive.