NEFIN unleashes terror on press (nationwide update)
N24 Special Correspondent, KATHMANDU: The first day of the three-day bandh (general strike) enforced by Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN) started off on a violent note with the protestors resorting to violence and vandalism from early in the morning. The bandha enforcers found an easy target in the Nepali press and vandalized press vans and attacked journalists at a number of places in the capital.
Despite their pledge to allow free and unrestricted movement to press personals, ambulances, students, human rights activists, band enforcers targeted journalists and press vans from early morning hours.
In its announcement, NEFIN has cl
aimed that its three day band has been called to protest the 11-state model agreed between three parties on May 15 and against including Brahmin, Chhetris, Dasnamis, Dalits and other casts, into the indigenous list.
However, on its first day of the bandh, the protests seemed to be deviated from its major agenda as the bandh enforcers and NEFIN leaders claimed that they will ‘finish press and press personals’, accusing them of downplaying news related to the NEFIN movement and their demand for ethnic states.
In capital alone, band enforcers vandalized and burnt dozens of vehicles and manhandled scores of journalists. Press releases from various press institutions flooded the mail inbox and the TV screens throughout Sunday reported attacks on press personals and general public.
NEFIN’s Sherpa warns to ‘finish off journalist’
Though NEFIN Chairman Raj Kumar Lekhi said that the attacks on the press were made by vigilantes, NEFIN General Secretary AangKaji Sherpa openly announced to ‘finish off’ journalists at the Reporters Club Nepal.
Sherpa was invited at the Club to elaborate on the objective behind the formation of JSC. On being questioned why the protestors were attacking on press personals, Sherpa accused the media of being biased towards NEFIN’s protests and warned to finish the FNJ itself.
“We have heard that the Federation of Nepali Journalists is organising a protest rally against our strike. If it happens then we would not spare the journalists, who kept mum during the strike demanding for Integrated Far western state,” said Sherpa.
Journalists who were present at the program protested against Sherpa’s warning and following verbal exchange between both sides, Sherpa was escorted out by security personals.
However on his way out of the hall, Sherpa threatened to ‘finish off’
President Rishi Dhamala and journalist KhilaKarki for protesting against him. He took pictures of Karki on his mobile.
Protestors surrounded Kantipur FM’s office in Lalitpur throughout Sunday and chanted slogans against the publication itself. They vandalized Kantipur Publication’s van Ba 9 Cha 5537 in Jorpati.
Band enforcers vandalized Nepal 1 televisions Ba 7 Cha 1600 vehicle in Chabahil and City FM’s journalists’ motorcycle Ba 50 Pa in BaudhaTusal informed police sources.
Rajdhani daily’s scribe NavrajChalishe was manhandled in Cuchepati and his motorcycle Ba 48 Pa 685 was vandalized. Avenues TV journalist BasudevSatyal’s camera and motorcycle were vandalized and broken the irate and unruly protestors in Chabhilchowk.
Sourya Daily scribe Ram HariPandey and his motorcycle was vandalized at Mitrapark, Chabahilchowk by band enforcers who were heavily drunk.
“We did not get an ethnic state due to you journalists,” Pandey quoted unidentified drunk protestors who further added, “today we will trash you journalist by singling you out.”
KarobarDainik scribe and senior journalist BipendraKarki and his motorcycle Ba 41 Pa 1507 was also attacked by the protestors. Though Karki did not sustain fatal injury from the attack, his motorcycle was severely vandalized.
Nepali 1 Television scribe KabitaAdhikari and cameraperson Mangal Lama were also attacked in Chabahilchowk.
Rajdhani Daily scribe and FNJ-Sindhupalchowk’s Treasurer Dinesh Thapa was attacked in ThimiBhaktapur, while he was heading home on Sunday morning.
He was severely beaten down by the protestors when he showed his press card by the protestors who questioned, “are you journalist kings of this nation.”
In Nawalparasi, Annapurna Daily’s scribe Hari Sharma was assaulted by the protestors while he was collecting news at Danda, where the Tharu Struggle Committee had organized a protest assembly.
Like other journalists, photo journalists also remained on the target of the protestors on Sunday. They assaulted photojournalists in most of the places accusing them of not publishing their photos in the respective medias. Photo journalists KeshavThokar, BijayRai, NiranjanShrestha, NaveshChitrakar, NareshShrestha among others were manhandled in the capital.
Threat to blast television
Some unidentified caller threatened repeatedly to blast Mountain Television channel for broadcasting news.
The callers called the television’s administration through the number 9807171509 and threatened to blow up the television within 24 hours, the television channel said in a press release.
Police detained 54 band enforcers from across the capital on Sunday for their involvement in vandalizing vehicles and public property.
Similarly, protestors vandalized and burnt down motorcycles Ba 10 Pa 2764, and Ba 22 Pa 2978 in Kupandole, motorcycle Ba 28 Pa 204 in Sanepa and Ba 28 Pa 2968 in Pulchowk, Ba 32 Pa 1937 in Imadol, and Ba 30 Pa 3899 in Gwarko. All of these motorcyles were burnt down and turned to ashes.
The band enforcers vandalized a microbus (Ba 1 Ja 6515) in Chabahil, near Gopi Krishna Hall, car (Ba 8 Cha 7677) in New Baneshworchowk and motorcycles Ba 30 Pa 2318 in Baneshwor.
Even police personals were not spared from performing their duties. A group of band enforcers, vandalized and burnt down a motorcycle rode by Sub Inspector DurgaDuttaBhatta and Police Constable BalBahadurSapkota in Ekantkuna of Lalitpur while they were on their way to Patan Appellate Court.
In Makwanpur, band enforcers vandalized a standby taxi and truck. Security personals detained three persons from the site for vandalizing private property.
Situation remained tense in Nawalparasi also. Band enforcers affiliated to TharuhatMuktiMorcha, an alliance partner of JSC vandalized and set on fire over a dozen of vehicles including 4 motorcycles, oil tanker, and truck, van and passanger bus in Tilakpur-5, Basachowk of the district. Two motorcycles and a van were turned to ashes informed police personals.
The Muslim Struggle Committee (MSC), another affiliate partner of JSC, reined terror in Biratnagar Sub-metropolitan city. The MSC pelted stones and vandalized a car and van in Rani Bus Park.
In Saptari, stranded passengers and band enforcers clashed with each other. Band enforcers overpowered the protesting passengers and thrashed them severely while also vandalizing nearby stationed passenger bus and an Indian truck.
In Jhapa, protestors vandalized a motorcycle at Itabhattachowk along Mahendra Highway of Mechi Municipality- 13.
Protestors vandalized Nagarik National Daily’s van and a school bus carrying students in Rudrapur-2 of Nawaparasi district. Two students were reported to have sustained injury when the protestors smashed the glasses of the bus with stones.
NEFIN chief says ‘govt vigilante’ behind attacks on press
NEFIN Chairman RajkumarLekhi while condemning the attacks on press personals across the nation claimed that the attacks were perpetrated by government vigilantes by issuing a press release.
He claimed that the attacks on press personals and media houses was an condemnable attack and said that the peaceful protests were heavily infiltrated by vigilantes.
Attacks on Press condemned
Attacks on press personals by protestors affiliated to JSC and its’ affiliate was condemned from all quarters.
FNJ, Nepal Press Union, Nepal Press Chautari, Revolutionary Journalist Association, INSEC, Community Radio Journalist Network, Community Radio Partnership Mechanism, Reporters Club Nepal, among others condemned the attacks.