Journos take to streets nationwide

Kathmandu, November 6:

Professionals and civil society members today demanded the government and the Maoists arrest and punish the murderers of journalist Birendra Shah, as journalists across the country took to the streets to protest the killing.

Former member of Nepal Human Rights Commission Prof Kapil Shrestha demanded public apology from both the government and the Maoists. “Both the government and the Maoist leadership must publicly apologise for killing the journalist and concealing the crime,” he said while addressing a mass meeting organized to pay tributes to Shah, who was killed by Maoist activists in Bara a month ago.

After keeping mum for a month, the Maoists on Monday confessed that the party activists were involved in the crime. Former justice Laxman Aryal said called on journalists to fight against the Maoist attack on press freedom and democracy and urged the people to stand united to force the government to committ to peace and order.

Civil Society activist Dr Devendra Raj Panday said the Maoists have shown brazenness by concealing their cadres’ involvement in the murder for one whole month and not apologizing for the heinous crime their activists committed.

Chairman of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) Bishnu Nisthuri said the government and the Maoists have committed a severer crime than the murder itself by concealing the information for a month. “Let this be the last incident of this kind. We will have to forget our professional limits if the Maoists do not stop this barbaric behaviour,” he said.

Director of the Avenues Television Bhashkar Raj Rajkarnikar said the channel for which Shah worked will provide a compensation of Rs 100,000 to Shah’s family, set up an award in Shah’s name and support the family in his children’s education.

On the occadion, representatives of other professional organisations also paid their last tributes to Shah.

Hundreds of journalists and other professionals participated in a protest rally organised by the FNJ before joining the mass meeting. The participants chanted slogans demanding punishment to the criminals, apology from the Maoists and martyr’s status for Shah.

Earlier, all FM radios in the capital paid tributes to Shah by airing mourning tunes in the morning.

Meanwhile, journalists in Pokhara held a demonstration today demanding action against the culprits involved in the killing.

In Siraha, protesting journalists obstructed the Mahendra highway at the Loktantrik Chowk of Lahan from 10 to 11 am.

In Nuwakot, journalists burnt the effigies of Maoist chairman Prachanda and home minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula. A joint meeting of FNJ, Press Union and Press Chautari decided to boycott Maoist news until the Maoist leadership apologised for Shah’s killing and until action was taken against those involved in the killing. Traffic was obstructed in the morning due to the protest.

In Gaighat of Udaypur, an assembly to mourn Shah’s killing was attended by journalists, human right activists and political activists. Protest rallies were also held in Dipayal, Dhulikhel, Charikot, Baglung, Nawalparasi, Sunsari, Dhading, Bara, Parsa and Bhojpur.

In Nepalgunj, journalists halted traffic at Dhambojhi Chowk for half an hour to protest the killing. Banke chapter of Press Chautari and Press Union have urged Nepalgunj-based mewspapers to leave Wednesday’s editorials blanked with black ink. Banke chapter of FNJ scheduled to stage a sit-in at DAO tomorrow.

Likewise, Sindhupalchowk chapter of FNJ decided to boycott news on Maoists for a week.

Shah’s body not found

Bara: The body of journalist Birendra Shah could not be found at the place where the CPN-Maoist High Level Committee had indicated. A police team led by SP Shyam Bahadur Khatri and a group of local journalists searched for the body on Tuesday at the site as indicated by the Maoist probe panel. According to the report, Shah’s body was buried in an open area in the forest, two km north of Juawa. But police and journalist teams could not find the body, said Binod Pyakurel, president of Bara chapter of the FNJ. — HNS

Scribe missing since July

Mahendranagar: The whereabouts of journalist Prakash Thakuri, who was abducted from Mahendranagar of Kanchanpur four months ago by alleged Maoist cadres, are still unknown.

Thahuri’s wife Janaki, who is now living at her maternal home along with her two sons, said she has been tired of knocking the doors of administration, police and human right activists to find the whereabouts of her husband.

Thakuri was abducted on July 5. Janaki said Maoists kidnapped her husband.

However Maoists have denied involvement of their cadres in Thakuri’s abduction. — HNS