Eminent journalist, publisher and civil society activist Kanak Mani Dixit was arrested on Friday by Nepal’s anti-corruption body on charges of accumulating wealth disproportionate to his income.
The 60-year-old was picked up from his residence in Lalitpur, near Kathmandu, by 20 policemen on the directions of the Commission for Investigation into Abuse of Authority (CIAA).
Dixit maintained his innocence, and told journalists he was being targeted for his opposition to the appointment of Lokman Singh Karki as chairman of the anti-corruption body.
“The property details submitted by the suspect did not match with the bank statements and property details of the suspect obtained by the commission,” said a statement issued by the CIAA.
Dixit, who is chairman of the public transport cooperative Sajha Yatayat, allegedly misused his position to amass wealth for himself and his family, it added.
He was also accused of opening several accounts in national and foreign banks, selling the property of Sajha Yatayat as his personal property, investing money in other institutions and purchasing property in the US.
“We have arrested Kanak Mani Dixit, the chairman of Sajha Yatayat, not the journalist, to investigate corruption charges against him,” CIAA spokesperson Krishna Hari Pushkar told reporters.
The CIAA filed corruption case against the publisher of Himal Southasian magazine and Nepali Times newspaper last year.
Dixit had filed a petition in the Supreme Court that said that since Sajha Yatayat was a cooperative and not a public company, its operations do not fall under CIAA’s jurisdiction.
The CIAA said Dixit had failed to cooperate with investigations and to appear before the body for hearings.
Several senior editors of India have called for the immediate release of Dixit and said the corruption charges against him are “part of a vendetta pursued against him by people in government”.
In a statement released on Friday night, they described Dixit “as a true professional, human rights defender and energetic journalist”.
Media figures call for release of Kanak Mani Dixit (Editor, Himal)
The following is the text of the statement:
- It is with deep concern that we have learned of the arrest today of Kanak Mani Dixit, the widely respected founder-editor of Himal Media and a courageous voice for transparency, freedom of expression and democratic rights in Nepal and across South Asia. The charges are related to alleged corruption but Kanak Dixit says it is part of a vendetta pursued against him by people in Government.
We have known Kanak Dixit as a true professional, human rights defender and energetic journalist whose credentials are built on robust research and tremendous courage. Himal Media, a pioneer in South Asia journalism, has published Himal South Asia, Nepali Times and Himal Khabar Patrika (in the Nepali language). He has written extensively for international media including leading newspapers in India and is chairman of Sajha Yatayat, a state run transportation company, which he has been turning around from a loss-making entity.
Kanak Dixit’s detention comes at a time of increased pressure on free media across South Asia. We call upon all national and international media organisations, individual journalists and editors, defenders of media under pressure, on those who believe in the freedom of expression, to seek Kanak Dixit’s immediate release and a fair and transparent trial, free of bias.
We call upon the Government of Nepal to issue a clear a transparent and unequivocal statement on his detention for we are deeply concerned about his safety and rights. We condemn all forms of pressure tactics on editors like him and other courageous media figures such as Mahfuz Anam of the Daily Star in Dhaka, who is facing over 80 cases of sedition and libel in Bangladeshi courts, and other media persons who are committed to the rule of law and justice.
- Sanjoy Narayan, Editor-in-chief, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
- Rajdeep Sardesai, Chief Editor, India Today TV Group, New Delhi
- Siddharth Varadarajan, Founder Editor, The Wire, New Delhi
- TN Ninan, Chairman, Business Standard Pvt Ltd, New Delhi
- Maja Daruwala, Director, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, New Delhi
- Sevanti Ninan, editor, The Hoot, New Delhi
- Salil Tripathi, Journalist and Author, London
- Imtiaz Ahmed, Executive Director, RCSS, Colombo
- Mahfuz Anam, Editor, The Daily Star, Dhaka
- Sara Hossein, Lawyer, Bangladesh Supreme Court
- Lubna Mariam, Cultural activist, Bangladesh
- Kalpana Sharma, independent journalist, Mumbai
- Sanjib Baruah, Professor of Political Studies, Bard College, New York, US
- Pradip Phanjoubam, Editor, Imphal Free Press
- Patricia Mukhim, Editor, the Shillong Times
- Seema Mustafa, Editor, The Citizen, New Delhi
- Lalita Panicker, Senior Associate Editor, The Hindustan Times, New Delhi
- Seema Guha, senior journalist (freelance), New Delhi
- Sangeeta Barooah Pisharoty, The Wire, New Delhi
- Aruni Kashyap, Writer and Asst Professor of English, Ashoka University, Haryana
- Dr. Xonzoi Barbora, TISS, Guwahati
- Sanjoy Hazarika, independent columnist, New Delhi