The apology tendered by the CPN-Maoist over the ‘misbehaviour’ of its security cadres with mediapersons at the venue of the peace summit at Baluwatar on October 15 makes a great deal of sense. The Maoist cadres, making a human chain in front of the PM’s residence where the event was being held, prevented journalists from moving freely, thus disrupting news collection. They also manhandled and threatened some journalists. The militia’s action drew flak from the Federation of Nepalese Journalists and shocked many.
The October 15 incident is not an isolated one. There have been previous cases of manhandling and kidnapping of journalists who may have filed news that did not please the Maoists. The sight of the People’s Liberation Army personnel and militia manning the gate of the PM’s compound speaks volumes for the volatile state of current political and security situation. The cadres’ high-handedness also went against the assurances given by the Maoist leadership locally and to the International Mission for Freedom of Press in Nepal recently. Such behaviour tends to cast serious doubts on the sincerity of Maoist assertions about respecting the sanctity of the freedom of press. This does not, however, mean that other quarters are free from such allegations of high-handedness shown towards working journalists. The October 15 tendency must stop, once and for all, irrespective of whatever set of reasons. The ongoing peace process would surely stand to gain if the Maoists embarked on further confidence-building measures and gave up the politics of intimidation.