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Scribes attacked as another strike cripples Nepal

world Updated: May 20, 2012 23:25 IST
Utpal Parashar
Utpal Parashar
Hindustan Times
Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities

Journalists and vehicles belonging to media houses were targeted by protesters during the first day of the three-day general strike called by indigenous communities of Nepal on Sunday.

The strike called by Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN) demanding ethnicity-based federalism in the new constitution brought life to a standstill across Nepal.

Schools, offices, business establishments remained closed and streets wore deserted looks as strike enforcers damaged dozens of vehicles including those belonging to the press.

Though journalists are allowed to function during such strikes, on Sunday a series of attacks on several vehicles carrying newspapers and media persons were witnessed in the capital and outside.

Reports say 10 journalists belonging to newspapers, television channels and radio stations were manhandled and motorcycles and vans carrying them torched or damaged.

Condemning the attacks, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai asked security officials to ensure protection of journalists and assured adequate compensation to those who were injured.

Terming them as premeditated, Om Sharma, General Secretary of Federation of Nepali Journalists, the biggest body of working journalists in Nepal, asked protesters to refrain from targeting media.

Media persons also carried out a rally in the capital on Sunday condemning the attacks.

Chairman of NEFIN Raj Kumar Lekhi, however, issued a statement blaming ‘vigilantes’ of launching attacks on media in order to weaken the peaceful strike by the ethnic communities.

As constitution drafting deadline of May 27 nears, Nepal is witnessing a series of strikes by various groups demanding protection of their identities and ethnicity-based federal units in the new statute.