The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has expressed serious concern after an increase in attacks against journalists working in Nepal.
Reporter for Radio Lumbini, Bhim Prasad Gurung was shot in the chest by an unknown group at around 11.30pm on October 13 and was rushed to the Teaching Hospital in Maharajgunj, Kathmandu.
The attack occurred at his house in Kerawani village of Rupendehi, in the western district of Nepal with the motives behind the attack still unknown.
In another incident, the publisher and editor of Satya Sandesh Daily, Bijaya Tiwari was threatened on October 13 at the central city of Nepal, Birgunj when the revolutionary organisation, Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morchha (JTMM) made a verbal threat toward Tiwari.
According to IFJ affiliate the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ), a member of the JTMM identified as Akash called the editor and forced him to donate to their organisation. Akash also threatened to kill Tiwari if he did not donate to the JTMM.
IFJ Asia-Pacific director Jacqueline Park has demanded that the government step up in its efforts to take serious action against the perpetrators and to investigate all attacks on journalists.
"The Government must take responsibility and do their part to crack down on illegal activities and to prevent further violence towards journalists," Park said.
The IFJ is also concerned about the whereabouts of missing Nepali journalist Birendra Shah who was abducted over 12 days ago from Pipara Bazaar, Kalaiya in the central region of Nepal on October 5.
On October 16 the parliament of Nepal formed a parliamentary committee to investigate Shah's abduction case. The FNJ has informed the IFJ that police arrested two suspected Maoists on October 16 in Birgunj in relation to Shah's abduction.
"The IFJ remains alert for any news about Birendra Shah's welfare and location and urges his captors to release him safely to his family," Park said.
A team lead by Ramesh Bista, central committee member of Federation of Nepali Journalists, FNJ, went to a mission at Bara district to initiate the release of the abducted journalist Birendra Shah today.
Birendra Shah, a Bara based journalist- affiliated to Nepal FM, Dristri Weekly and Avenues TV was abducted by an unidentified group on 5 October, Friday evening from Pipara Bazaar, Kalaiya -6, the district headquarter of Bara, located at a central region of Nepal.
The mission team is accompanied by Gagan Bista, general secretary of Press Chautari Nepal and Junarbabu Basnet, treasurer of Nepal Press Union. The other motives of the team are to promote press freedom and journalists' security in the district.
A delegation team of Federation of Nepali Journalists, FNJ, separately met with Subash Nemwang, speaker of the Interim Legislature Parliament and Kedar Nath Upadhaya, chairman of National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, on 14 October at Kathmandu.
The meeting discussed about safe and immediate release of the abducted journalist Birendra Shah. The delegation team demanded the Speaker to instruct the government on behalf of the parliament to take legal action against the guilty. Saying the government has not giving due attention for the release of journalists, the delegation team urged the government to send the on-site mission of parliamentarians to find the facts about the regular trends of attacks on media.
Nemwang said that the parliament has taken the abduction and attacks against the media seriously and would take necessary steps in this regard and will punish the guilty after finding facts of the incident.
Similarly, in the meeting with chairman and members of NHRC, the delegation urged to draw the attention of the government and CPN-Maoists immediately. The team also urged the commission to send a team to Bara district to investigate the abduction and disappearance of Shah.
In reply, chairman of NHRC committed that commission will immediately draw the attention of government and CPN-Maoist and would send a team to investigate the whereabouts of the scribe.
Two local Maoist cadres allegedly abducted Shah on 5 October 2007 from Bara district and his condition and whereabouts is still unknown.
The delegation team was led by FNJ president Bishnu Nisthuri. Mahendra Bista, FNJ secretary general, Hemanta Kafle, treasurer, Ramesh Bista, FNJ mission coordinator to Bara and executive member and other members of FNJ including Balkrishna Chapagain, president of Press Chautari Nepal and Damodar Dawadi, vice president of Nepal Press Union were also a part of the team.