NEFIN, BMF Strike Brings Nation To Halt
|| KATHMANDU, May 20: The first day of the three-day general strike called by Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN) and Broader Madhesi Front (BMF) threw normal life across the country out of gear on Sunday.
While academic institutions, businesses and industries remained shut, public and private vehicles, except for a few belonging to the emergency services, chose to remain off the road.
The protests took a violent turn at several places as agitators specifically targeted media persons and vehicles belonging to different media houses, going back on their commitment to ensure unrestricted movement of media persons.
Over a dozen vehicles, both two and four wheelers, belonging to different media houses and journalists were torched and vandalized in different parts of Kathmandu Valley on the first day of the three-day general strike organized to press for an identity-based federalism with rights to self -determination.
The protestors clashed with the police in different parts of Kathmandu Valley. The police fired 50 tear gas shells and few rounds of rubber bullets in Gwarko area to disperse the agitating protestors. Two of the protestors were injured when the police used force, according to Metropolitan Police Commissioner´s Office, Ranipokhari.
According to Deputy Superintendent of Police Dhiraj Pratap Singh at Metropolitan Police Range Office, Kathmandu, altogether 60 protestors were arrested for their involvement in vandalism and attacks against media.
Issuing a press statement, Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) has urged the government to give due consideration to the safety of journalists and make necessary arrangement for the treatment of injured journalists.
"Attacking and vandalizing vehicles belonging to media houses and media persons who help inform citizens and help build opinion is a matter of grave concern," says the statement undersigned by the FNJ General Secretary Om Sharma.
Denouncing the attacks against media, FNJ, the umbrella organization of journalists across the country, has demanded compensation to the media persons and houses whose vehicles have been damaged.
The agitating NEFIN and BMF cadres vandalized a vehicle (Bhe 1 Cha 1083) belonging to Nepal Republic Media in Rudranagar, which was on the way to Nepalgunj after distributing newspapers in Bhairahawa. Likewise, a motorcycle (Ba 29 Pa 5584) belonging to journalist Gobinda Pariyar of Nagarik Daily was vandalized in Chabahil when Pariyar visited the place in the course of reporting. The protestors also misbehaved with Pariyar.
Likewise, a vehicle (Ba 9 Cha 5537) belonging to Kantipur Publications was vandalized by the agitators in Jorpati and another vehicle (Ba 8 Cha 7877) belonging to Kantipur Television was vandalized at New Baneshwar.
The protestors also misbehaved with journalists Pranab Kharel and Ankit Adhikari of The Kathmandu Post at Samakhusi and also vandalized the motorcycle they were riding. Nearly 60 copies of Kantipur daily were burnt in the same area alleging that the newspaper did not carry news about their strikes.
The agitating protestors also picketed the office of Kantipur FM in Pulchowk. Around 150 agitating cadres gathered there had chanted slogan against Kantipur FM, Kantipur Daily and Kantipur Television alleging that the media outlets did not give their protests enough coverage. The agitators dispersed following police intervention.
According to a press statement issued by the FNJ, the agitators vandalized a vehicle (Ba 6 Cha 5072) belonging to ABC Television and also broke its steering before seizing the vehicle´s key. A two-wheeler (Ba 36 Pa 7801) belonging to ABC Television was vandalized in Gwarko, Lalitpur.
Likewise, the protestors targeted a vehicle (Ba 3 Cha 4558) belonging to Avenues Television at Tinchuli, Boudhha. In a similar incident, the protestors vandalized a vehicle (Ba 7 Cha 5710) belonging to Nepal 1 Television in Chabahil and misbehaved with journalist Kabita Adhikari and cameraperson Mangal Lama.
The agitating cadres of the NEFIN manhandled journalists of Sagarmatha Television Saral Gurung, Satish Subedi, Akkal Kunwar and Punya Dhamala and burnt down their motorcycles (Ba 27 Pa 6832, Ba 25 Pa 3747 and Ba 25 Pa 8854) in Kupandole area. The agitators also smashed two video cameras the journalists were carrying.
The protestors also torched a motorcycle belonging to journalist Rajan Parajuli of Antenna Foundation in Sanepa and misbehaved with him even though he showed them his press identity card.
The agitators vandalized motorcycle (Ba 46 Pa 3421) belonging to journalist Dinesh Gautam of Citizens FM at Boudhha, Tusal and also left him injured with iron rods.
The FNJ statement said the protestors burnt down two motorcycles (Ba 10 Pa 7023 and Ba 22 Pa 2878) belonging to journalists Radhe Shyam Dahal of Sagarmatha Television, Shakti Karki and Prakash Kattel of Roadmap Weekly and Biku Tamang of Sports Journalist Association at Sanepa Chowk and thrashed them for ´defying the strike´.
In a similar incident, the agitators misbehaved with the editor of Muktipatra Weekly Upendra Sharma and vandalized his motorcycle in Lagankhel. Journalist Rajesh Chamling Rai and Shambu Prasai of Gorkhapatra Daily and Bijaya Chamling of Rajdhani Daily were verbally abused in Chabahil.
Likewise, the agitators torched a motorcycle (Ba 20 Pa 3899) belonging to W P Ghimire of Himalaya Television in Gwarko while he was on his way to office and misbehaved with journalist Bipendra Karki of Karobar Daily and also vandalized his two-wheeler in Kupandole.
The protestors misbehaved with journalist Prakash Guragain of Naya Patrika Daily and also vandalized his two-wheeler in Gaushala Chowk. Likewise, the agitators beat up journalist Rohit Bhandari of Mountain Television and also seized his camera in Chabahil. Journalist Shambhu Dangal of Capital FM was targeted at Dhobighat, according to the FNJ statement.
In Pokhara, protestors did not spare even ambulances and buses carrying tourists as they attacked them with stones. At least nine persons were injured in the scuffle between police personnel and agitators in the lake city. According to police, the protestors also vandalized few shopping outlets in Pokhara.
In Mahendranagar, local businessmen and the agitating Tharuhat activists engaged in clashes as the former tried to defy the shut down enforced by the Tharuhat cadres. At least two persons were injured in course of the scuffle, police said.
In Nawalparasi, Tharuhat activists broke the arm of journalist Hari Sharma, who was covering a protest rally organized by Joint Tharu Struggle Committee in Danda-based Tharu Museum. Sharma works for Annapurna Post Daily and Image Channel Television.
Likewise, in Morang, agitating cadres of NEFIN and BMF held journalists Ganesh Niraula, Dhruva Bhattarai and Suresh Nepali for 45 minutes alleging that they did not cover news in favor of the protest program and also seized their press accreditation card.
The agitators misbehaved journalist Damodar Guragain in Tahrara of Sunsari district, for riding motorbike during the banda called by them.
In Sindhuli, the agitators torched copies of local vernacular daily, Janaboli Dainik, and also threatened the newspaper office over the phone asking it to furnish clarifications to local Tamsaling party for not publishing news about the protests of indigenous community. The agitators have allegedly kept the editor and journalists of the paper in their "blacklist" and threatened to take action if they failed to furnish clarification, the FNJ statement said.
Issuing separate press statements, FNJ Chapters of Kantipur Publication, Kantipur Television, Nepal Republic Media, Nepal Television, Naya Patrika Daily, Nepal 1 Television, New24 Television and Karobar Daily, Photo Journalists Club and Society of Economic Journalists of Nepal (SEJON) have strongly denounced the attacks.
Flaying the government for failing to provide security to media persons, the FNJ chapters of different media houses have demanded compensation for the damages and punishments for those involved in the Sunday´s attacks.
Madhesi Students Front denounce attack on media
The Madhesi Student Front (MSF), which has also called three days general strike, coinciding with the strike called by NEFIN and BMF, has denounced the attacks against media and journalists.
Talking to Republica, chairman of Madhesi Students Forum, one of the constituent students´ bodies of the alliance of various student unions of ruling Madhesi parties, said the attack against media and journalists is regrettable. "We denounce the attack against media and journalists during the protests. We also urge the protestors to exercise restraint and make the protest peaceful," he said.
NC, UML, CPN-ML flay attack on media
Various political parties including the ruling Nepali Congress and CPN-ML denounced the attack on journalist and vehicles of media houses.
Issuing a press statement, NC President Sushil Koirala said that he was hurt to learn about the attacks on journalists and vehicles belonging to media houses and on individual journalist in different parts of the country. "I strongly denounce these incidents. Such activities interfere with the independence of press and people´s right to information," he said in the statement.
Koirala urged the agitating parties to refrain from violence and make the protest peaceful. He has also urged the concerned parties to be careful about the rights of other groups while trying to raise voice for their rights.
Talking to Republica, CPN-UML spokesperson Pradeep Gyawali said the Sunday´s attack on media seemed premeditated rather than spontaneous. "This is a serious issue as the protestors seemed to have carried out planned attacks against media. Sadly, the administration remained a mute spectator over the incident," said Gyawali, who is also the spokesperson of the party.
While denouncing the attacks, Gyawali demanded that the government provide compensation to those who suffered loss during the attacks.
Meanwhile, Nepal Press Union of the NC and Press Chautari Nepal of UML have also denounced the attacks on media. They have also demanded that the organizers of the strike provide compensation for the damaged they caused and urged them not threaten media persons.
PM assures compensation to damaged properties
Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai has assured compensation to the media persons, whose vehicle and properties were damaged by agitating Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN) cadres, Sunday.
In his telephone conversation with the Chairman of Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) Shiva Gaunle, the prime minister also expressed sadness over the indiscriminate attacks against media persons and vandalism of their properties including vehicles. "Please collect details of the damaged properties belonging to journalists. I will forward necessary process for compensation," Gaunle quoted Bhattarai as saying.
FNJ Chairman Gaunle complained that media persons faced wrath of protestors as the police deployed nearby remained mute spectators. The prime ministers also assured special security arrangement for the safety of journalists during the strikes of NEFIN and Broader Madhesi Front (BMF).
Sunday marked the first of the three-day general strike organized jointly by the NEFIN and BMF to press for identity-based federal state with autonomous rights.
While denouncing the attacks against media, Gaunle said Sunday was the worst day that marked great humiliation to entire media fraternity "We will keep records of those who have stood against press freedom. This will include the name of former king Gyanendra and leaders of ethnic movement who have blatantly violated press freedom in course of their protests," he further said.
Nidhi´s house vandalized
JANAKPUR: Supporters of Broader Madhesi Front, a cross-party alliance of Madhesi parties, on Sunday vandalized the house of Nepali Congress leader Bimalendra Nidhi and burned effigies of Nepali Congress leaders Nidhi, Ram Krishna Yadav, Ram Saroj Yadav and Mahendra Yadav for advocating five provinces in the Tarai.
Participants of a rally organized by 18 parties, including UCPN (Maoist), Madhesi People´s Rights Forum and Sadbhawana Party, vandalized Nidhi´s house at Mills Area and chanted slogans against him. They also accused Nidhi of being anti-Madhes.
Nepali Congress has condemned the vandalism and demanded that the government take action against those involved in the act. The party has also demanded that the government ensure security to citizens.
Injured journalist Hari Sharma receiving treatment
This news item is printed from myrepublica.com - a sister publication of Republica national daily.
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