Former PM Bhattarai expresses solidarity with agitating journalists


Former prime minister and leader of Janta Samajwadi Party Baburam Bhattarai, expressing solidarity with the agitating journalists has asked the government to collaborate with media houses to support the journalists hit hard by the months-long-lockdown.

A group of journalists have been staging a 24 hourslong-relay hunger strike at Baneshwor, forwarding six-point demands urging media houses to abide by the Working Journalist Act.

Former PM Bhattarai addressing the agitating journalists said, “It is not a good sign that journalists in democratic society are facing hard times as journalists ensure the people’s right to information.”

He further said, “The government should call the media houses to discuss their problems and ensure that the journalists get their rightful salary on time.”

Agitating journalists have been staging the hunger strike since October 1. They are organised under, ‘Media House Victim Journalists and Employees Joint Struggle Committee.’ Coordinator of the struggle, journalist Dharmendra Karna said it was unjust for the journalists, who are deprived of salaries for months to keep on writing news stories about other people, who are suffering a similar fate. “Our strike is also against the government, who is turning blind eyes to the plights of the journalists.”

Over 350 journalists inside Kathmandu valley are having a tough time even to manage two meals a day, said Karna.

“Scores of journalists are forced to quit their jobs, hundreds are sent for unpaid leave and an equally large number of them have changed their profession due to the bad working condition.”

However, he also said they didn’t have an exact number of journalists, who have been asked to stay on unpaid leave or are forced to quit the job because journalists don’t normally complain about concerned media houses fearing they won’t get jobs in other media houses as well. Journalists of 12 media houses have filed complaints of forcing them to leave the job or sent them for unpaid leave for indefinite time at the Federation of Nepali journalists. The 12 media houses include television media, print media and one online media.

Scores of senior journalists and members from organisations of journalists representing various political parties have joined the protest.

Demands of the struggle committee include ensuring the minimum salary for all working journalists and granting permanent employment status after two years to those who have worked at a media house for more than two years. The struggle committee plans to stage protests outside over a dozen media houses in coming days.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on October 4, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.