The Maoist minister is trying to turn the state-owned publishing house a Maoist recruitment center
The other day, Gorkhapatra Corporation, the government owned publisher of dailies Gorkhapatra and the Rising Nepal, refused to renew the contract of 49 journalists, rendering them instantly jobless. Of the 49 working journalists, many were appointed during King Gyanendra’s direct rule as justified by the corporation for the refusal to renew the contract. But the question is: How many of them were pro-king journalists? Minister of Information and Communication Krishna Bahadur Mahara should be able to answer this though he has maintained a tight lip. The Maoists have formed labor unions and have talked about the rights of laborers in public gatherings. On this count, Mahara has turned his back conspicuously. Gorkhapatra Corporation has been a recruitment center of successive information and communication ministers. Mahara, being a Maoist, cannot be an exception. He apparently wants to fill the corporation with pro-Maoist journalists.
However, the victims have always been the journalists who are forced to call the tune set by the successive information and communication minister. During King Gyanendra’s 14-month-long direct rule, Minister of Information and Communication Sirish Shamsher Rana sacked over 200 journalists working in the state-run media only to recruit the “regressive” journalists later. Now Minister of Information and Communication Mahara, a hardcore Maoist, wants to step into Rana’s shoes. The refusal to renew the contract points out Mahara’s ill-intention. And this could be just the beginning. The broadcast media — Nepal television and Radio Nepal –may become the next targets. No matter how Mahara takes the role of media, he apparently lacks ingenuity and dynamism required to understand the very meaning of press freedom. On the one hand, the Maoist cadres disrupt the distribution of newspapers. On the other, Mahara directs the publication houses to resolve the differences between the delivery boys and the management when the latter has nothing to do with the demands of the delivery boys.
A week after the Right to Information Bill was passed in the parliament, the Maoists-affiliated newspaper delivery boys launched a strike at The Himalayan Times and Annapurna Post. Earlier, Samacharpatra and its sister publication Sandhyakalin were forced to close their publication for three days. The intention behind the closure and prevention of newspaper distribution is clear. First, the Maoists are finding it hard to adapt to the open environment. Second, the elite groups—be they journalists or teachers – have refused to side with the Maoist ideology. As a result, the Maoists are desperately looking for a political space within the intellectual circle. But the media personnel have seriously noted the firing of 49 journalists from Gorkhapatra Corporation. (Editorial in the Kathmandu Post)