Journalist Sudheer Sharma: Exclusives Never End

Sudheer Sharma, one of the most authoritative figures in Nepalese journalism has come up with a cover story in Nepal Magazine that has made people believe that Dr Baburam Bhattarai has in fact been expelled from the Maoist Party. In this pic taken by Wagle, Sudheer is in his office chamber with the latest issue of Nepal on the table.

By Dinesh Wagle

Today’s issue of Nepal Weekly Magazine, country’s prominent publication, has a revealing cover story (Read English version here) by its editor Sudheer Sharma about the shocking news report that appeared conspicuously in Nepalese media last week. On the day of Mar 15, all Nepalese media ran a sensational new report that claimed the ‘abrupt and sudden and unexpected’ removal of Dr Baburam Bhattarai from the politburo membership of Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist).

The news was greeted by many in Kathmandu with deep suspicion. The source of the news was Royal Nepal Army’s public relation’s directorate and the news was disseminated via the state-owned news agency RSS (Rastriya Samachar Samiti or National News Agency). Many people in Nepal thought that that was mere propaganda of army to bring fraction within the ‘terrorist’ declared Maoist party.

I wrote a blog saying that the move of army was clear act of exploitation of media that are already under censorship since Feb 1 royal takeover. Now, after reading the Nepal Magazine cover story, I have reached the conclusion that the news of expulsion of Dr Bhattarai is true. Why? Not only because Nepal Magazine has carried that as the cover story but, most importantly, the writer is Sudheer Sharma.

If you don’t know who Sudheer Sharma is and why he commands such authority over Maoist related news, then let me give you some idea. Sudheer is one of the most trusted names when it comes to the news about the ongoing conflict in Nepal. Many say that his expertise in reporting, writing and understanding the rebellion movement in Nepal has helped pushed his career in the higher ends. He was the first reporter to go to the war zone and come up with a famous cover story in Himal Khabar Patrika, another influential and prominent publication of Nepal, four years ago in Jan 2000. By then, he had penned so many revealing and analytical reports about the People’s War that started in 1996. Since that groundbreaking cover story (field report plus analysis) of Himal Khabarpatrika, Sudheer has broken several stories, has come up with many inside stories and presented many analysis.

Sudheer started his journalistic career from an entertainment weekly Parda (screen) in 2051. Entertainment wasn’t his cup of tea, so he joined newly established Jana Aastha weekly in 2052. While in that paper, he wrote some breaking stories including the interview of Lendup Dorjee, former Prime Minister of Sikkim who played a lead role in merging the once independent Kingdom with India. Lendup prominently featured in Nepali politics at that time and was a favorite character among conspiracy theorists. Lendup has been a metaphor in Nepali politics to explain about the possible Sikkmization of Nepal. Everyone wanted to know about this person at that time and Sudheer grabbed that chance.

I have collected some info about this 30-year-old editor of Nepal Magazine. Sudheer is interested varieties of topics as a reporter. Royal family of Nepal (best example: Narayanhitti Hatyakanda: Sadhyantra Ki Sanak? or Narayanhitti Massacre: Conspiracy or Idiosyncrasy?- about the royal massacre of 2001 as cover story in Himal), military intelligence (Kathmandu Today Magazine cover story about Khampa Insurgency and US CIA’s involvement in that and Nepal magazine cover story about Jasoosi Akhada or (Maoist Vs US)), Human Interest features (Dance, Drink ra Dangdung cover story in Himal), Crime (story of Ruby’s smuggling in KT Magazine) and Border Management (Bharitiya Atikraman Ko Nanuma- Example of Indian Encroachment- in KT). His story about Christianity in Nuwakot district (Where Church is ahead and Development is Behind) in KT Magazine was another example of his illustrious reporting.

“I accompanied him to Nuwakot to do that Khampa story,” Sudheer’s long time friend Deepak Adhikari remembers, “We went all the way to a remote village of Nuwakot for the story on a motorbike. I am amazed by his patience and dedication to collect information.”

Sudheer did a cover story on KT about Maoist insurgency in 1997. That was the first cover story about the People’s War in any magazine. “We wanted to put a Maoist on the cover of KT but we didn’t even know how a Maoist would look like,” one of Sudheer’s colleagues recalls. “Still, we managed to find models for guerillas, covered their faces with a red star printed scarf and give them guns. That was our imagination about Maoist those days.”

Sudheer did the whole story but he was impressed by the line that Deepak suggested him as a possible headline for the story: “Maobadi Janayuddha: Ganatantra Ki Grihayuddha?” or Maoist People’s War: Republic or Civil War? “Sudheer still gives me credit for that headline,” Deepak happily says. Since then, Sudheer has done innumerable stories in many different media like Himal Magazine and Nepal Magazine. “Four Districts Under Maoist Control” titled Himal cover story of Jan 2000 is one such example of conflict journalism. He has written many stories about Nepalese Diaspora in India.

He is a top shot professional when it comes to writing about Maoist. Many scribes in Nepal are either branded as Maoist supporters or Government propagandists. But he has been able to walk on that thin line between the two warring factions. He has experienced some terrible personal loss while writing about Maoist war. Three years ago, he was in Rolpa, the most affected area by the war, to cover the impact of the war. He used to work for Himal at that time. Raja Ram Gautam of Nepal Magazine and some other journalists were also there in that tour. Maoists abducted the team and that news spread countrywide. Hearing the news of his son’s abduction, Sudheer’s father went through heart attack and died. “While in the abduction,” Raja Ram remembers, “Sudheer, like his name which means well patience, was calm and cool. He was determined to have a good story out of the trip.” But because of his dad’s demise, he couldn’t do the story.

He has proved himself as a capable reporter for almost any kind of stories. “Today he writes a cover story on Kathmandu’s nightlife and tomorrow about SAF games,” says a close aide of Sudheer. His heydays were those when he worked in Himal, in the beginning as a reporter and then he left the magazine as the news coordinator. He joined Nepal Magazine as an assistant editor two and a half years ago and became editor of the magazine a year ago. “Nepal Magazine has become even more interesting and professional under his leadership,” once wrote Bijay Kumar, founding editor of Nepal Magazine, about Sudheer.

When he is not reporting, he edits stories on his computer tuning in to Hindi songs and chatting over MSN. Plus, he is one of the most eligible bachelors in Nepalese journalism. I have heard many girls commenting about him as a “reserved and shy guy who rarely talks much.” But many of his friends regard him as a very sociable and helpful person.

Now, back to today’s cover story. Many people in Kathmandu whom I meet today have said that they have believed Baburam was expelled from the Maoist party. This kind of tremendous trust over his stories is based on his skills: documentation, always being updated, and close contact with sources.

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‘Baburam, Hisila in detention’

KATHMANDU, March 20 (RSS) – Baburam Bhattarai and his wife Hisila Yami are said to have been expelled from the so-called terrorist party and kept under the custody of armed personnel. This is stated in the press statement issued at 7:30 PM yesterday by the so-called alternative member of the terrorists Netra Bahadur Chand ‘Biplav’, says a press statement issued by the Royal Nepalese Army, Public Relations Directorate here today.

(from The Kathmandu Post)

Comment by Trishna — 3/21/2005 @ 11:07 am

Thank you very much for making efforts to get an english version of the article on Baburam that appeared in Nepal (magazine). Also like to congratulate for forming the Media Watch segment. Hope that this segment will pay attention to the prominent issues covered in other vernacular magazines as well. Best of Luck!!!!

Comment by Prakash — 3/21/2005 @ 11:52 am

Dinesh Jee,

I knew few things about Sudheer Sharma when he was in Himal. But the story you wrote helped me to know more about him. Nepal mag should be proud to get sudheer as a editor.

Comment by Suman Ghimire — 3/21/2005 @ 3:35 pm

Comprehensive information! worth reading

Comment by nagarik — 3/21/2005 @ 4:35 pm

I agree with all of the above comments, good work!

Comment by kagyuster — 3/21/2005 @ 9:26 pm

btw, The Rising Nepal reports: Maoists confirm Baburam Bhattarai’s expulsion

Comment by kagyuster — 3/21/2005 @ 9:30 pm

Its very nice to read from my friend and he got more knowledge when i was with him.we work together before and becouse of my own problems i leave Nepal and working in the Saipan.I really proud for my friend who really work hard for the Nepali reader.Keep it up my friend

Comment by Nishchal Chapagain — 3/25/2005 @ 10:23 pm

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