THT 10 YEARS AGO: Media fiat evokes sharp condemnation

Kathmandu, October 10, 2005

The Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) and the Communist Party of Nepal-(Marxists) today condemned an ordinance issued by the government yesterday to amend some laws related to the media. While the FNJ said it would launch protest programmes and go to court challenging the ordinance, the CPN-UML urged all the concerned to defy it. “We will fight against the government immediately after Dashain,” president of the FNJ, Bishnu Nisthuri, told this daily. “We will fight it with the pen, on the streets and in court,” he said. According to him, the FNJ would file a writ petition in the Supreme Court challenging the ‘draconian’ ordinance. The ordinance allows the government to impose a fine of up to Rs 1,00,000 on a publisher or editor in a defamation case, up ten times the previous penalty. It has restricted the press from criticising the King and members of the royal family by amending the Press and Publication Act, 1991. The earlier law barred the press from criticising only the monarch. The government also has the authority to restrict import, translation and publication of banned foreign items. Defying such a ban would invite a fine of up to Rs 5,00,000. The ordinance also allows the government to cancel the ‘press pass’ of journalists. The Nepal Bar Association also strongly opposed the ordinance and has demanded the government immediately withdraw it. “This move is a blatant violation of the Constitution,” NBA vice-president Sher Bahadur KC said. “The government has infringed upon the fundamental rights of the people,” he said, adding, “The NBA would provide any kind of legal and moral support to the FNJ in its fight against such an autocratic ordinance.”

Pay SSB men, Nepali cops to enter Nepal!

Siddharthanagar, October 10, 2005

Sounds unbelievable, but it is true. Nepalis willing to enter Nepal must pay in cash to Indian security personnel stationed along the border. But don’t be mistaken, for Nepali security men are equally competent in extracting money from migrant Nepali workers, who are on their way home for Dashain and Tihar after making some bucks in India. Tejendra Thapa, a resident of Burtiwang, Baglung, managed to enter Nepal only after paying a uniformed Indian security personnel stationed on the Indo-Nepal border in Sunauli. After paying INRs 100 to the security man, Thapa thought the ordeal was over, but he was wrong. Thereafter, SSB personnel ordered the rickshaw, in which five people, including Thapa, were travelling, to stop near the eastern gate. They let them enter Nepal only after extracting Rs 100 from every passenger. Upon entering Nepal, they thought that their troubles were over, but they were wrong again. Three uniformed Nepali policemen, who were stationed at the peace gate, stopped them and urged them to disembark from the rickshaw.