Journalists continue protest

Kathmandu, March 14:

The Federation of Nepali Journalists today took out a rally, demanding an end to impunity, and guarantee of press freedom and physical and professional security of journalists.

The rally in the form of a human chain went through Exhibition Road, Putali Sadak, Bagbazar, Ratnapark and Old Bus Park before converging into a corner meet at Bhrikuti Mandap. Addressing the corner meet, former FNJ general secretary Mahendra Bista said press freedom was a relative concept and the journalists should be given full authority to exercise it.

Former president of the FNJ Taranath Dahal wished no journalist faces death just because of working for press freedom. He said only a free press could safeguard the citizens’ rights.

Another former president Harihar Birahi said the realisation of democratic governance would be impossible without press freedom and accused the present government of exhibiting an anti-press character. In a reference to the case of Reporters’ Club Nepal’s president Rishi Dhamala, he said that the government was promoting impunity by not punishing the attackers of journalists and instead terrorising the journalists by arresting them on false charges, without any evidence.

FNJ president Dharmendra Jha blamed the political parties and the ruling coalition for rising impunity. Expressing solidarity with the agitation of different communities seeking their rights and identities, Jha said they had, however, by no means, right to assault the journalists.

He also said journalist Dhamala should be punished if he was guilty. “Nobody’s crime can be overlooked in the garb of journalism,” Jha said. But he suspected that Dhamala’s arrest could be a government bid to terrorise journalists and putting their morale down.

The FNJ has formed a team to probe into the cases of violence against journalists, Jha said. “We demand the government to investigate into the cases through the judiciary,

not through the local administration.”