The Maoists and Press Freedom in Nepal: What Happened in Kantipur Yesterday

Maoists confiscate papers: Meanwhile, demonstrating their Stalinist nature, the Maoist cadres in Pokhara today disturbed the distribution of Kantipur and the Kathmandu Post. According to Dhruba Panthi, chief of Kantipur Publication’s regional office in Pokhara, a group of Maoist YCL cadres led by Maoist trade union’s Gandaki zonal coordinator Khagendra Kafle and Maoist district committee member Shanti Lamichhane confiscated copies of both newspapers. The same Maoist activists also confiscated 1200 copies of Kantipur and 300 copies of the Post from the office while they also confiscated 500 copies of Kantipur from the shop Gorkhapatra Baje and all copies from Joshi Pustak Pasal.

[Kantipur Publications regrets Maoist threat to close down newspapers, TV –read here
Govt won’t compromise press freedom: PM –read here]

Update (14:30 PM today): Going against a recent court order, a group of Unionists including some of those who were expelled is holding a corner meeting now outside Kantipur Complex while journalists are working or watching the meeting from the windows of the building. Some central Maoist trade union leaders and dozens of Maoist’s Young Communist League members are also participating in the meeting. Speaking at the program, Chairman of the Maoist’s All Nepal Trade Union Federation (ANTUF) Shalik Ram Jamkattel warned that their next target would be to shut down Kantipur Television. “Currently, the Publications alone has been shut down. [Kantipur] Television will also be shut down within four days,” he said. There is presence of riot police. Many reporters we talked to said they were not intimidated by the Maoist act. “We fought against the autocratic regime of Gyanednra and we always thought we had to face the Maoist communists,” said a reporter. “Now we are facing the autocratic aspirations of the Maoist communists. This is not China and this is not mid 20th century. Maoists will not succeed here.”

kantipur vehicle vandalized

Maoist unionists in Kantipur vandalized a vehicle belonging to Kantipur Publications MD Kailash Sirohiya. The driver of the vehicle inspects the damage.

The Maoist unionist workers of Kantipur Publications, acting directly under the Maoist leadership, tried yesterday evening to physically assault the high level officials of Kantipur Publications, vandalized the printing press, smashed the windscreen of a newspaper vehicle and tried to burn tires and newspaper copies inside the office complex in Tinkune, Kathmandu. It was a brazen attack on the free press and has been condemned widely by various sections of society: from a senior cabinet minister to the key political leaders of ruling parties, from editor’s alliance to reporters’ groups. Here is the detail of what happened yesterday evening in Kantipur Complex that houses the offices of the largest publishing company of Nepal:

By UWB Team (with reporting by Suraj Kunwar)
UWB condemns the Maoist attack on Kantipur Publications.

1. At around 7:30 PM, members of the Kantipur Publications branch of Maoist’s All Nepal Communication, Printing and Publications Workers’ Union (ANCPPWU) gathered in the Kantipur complex. They brought out two tires, newspaper copies and prepared to burn them. This act of the Union is against an interim order issued a few days ago by the Patan Appellate Court. The court had clearly instructed the Union not to stage any kind of protest activities in the office complex and not to disturb the printing and publications of the paper. [The unionists, ignoring the court order, attacked the printing press machine. Read about that later.]

2. As the Unionists were preparing to burn tires, reporters saw and decided to stop them from doing so. Reporters from both Kantipur daily and The Kathmandu Post daily went down from their offices on the fourth and fifth floors of the building respectively. Some staffs of the Publications called police. As reporters started protesting the burning of tires the situation because tense. An intense debate followed for about half an hour as two sides argued whether it was good to burn tires inside the office premise. Meanwhile, the Unionists, about 15-25, were shouting slogans against Kantipur Publications Managing Director Kailash Sirohiya.

3. The Unionists had already locked the main gate of the office effectively barring all employees and journalists inside the complex from going out. As both sides were arguing, the security guards removed the tires.

4. A police team under the command of DSP Gorkah Bhandari from New Baneshwor Police Circle came in front of the office building, and after waiting for a few minutes, came inside the office complex breaking the small gate. They also opened the main (big) gate immediately after they entered.

5. Many night desk staffs of the newspapers who were unable to enter inside came and those who wanted to leave office went. Among those waiting outside the gate were Kailash Sirohiya, the MD, and Binod Raj Gyawali, the director of Kantipur Publications. They entered from the main gate. As Sirohiya was talking to journalists and staffs, Surya Tajpuria, the chief of the Union, suddenly went forward intending to attack Sirohiya. Police instantly arrested him and put him in a police van. The police told all of the staffs with ID cards to go inside the building while those outsiders to go out of the office premise. After the police announcement, those who were sloganeering against the management of Publications disappeared. As the journalists were having discussion among themselves inside the office building, some smashed the windscreen of the vehicle used by Kailash Sirohiya that was parked outside the office building. A reporter who saw the unionists attacking the vehicles informed about the incident to other journalists and officials. Police brought the vehicles inside.

The names of the nine, who had earlier disturbed the printing of the paper two days ago and were expelled from the job on ground of hindering the printing of the paper, were disclosed and a notice was pasted on that regard. The Unions’ flag was removed. Police searched the office of the Union and found a person: Pradeep Tamang and arrested him. In total, four were arrested by the Police including Tamang, Tajpuria, Khem Tamang and Chet Bahadur Magar (later two were arrested from the street outside the publication office).

6. A team from Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) lead by Johan Olhagen, head of Kathmandu regional office, came and inspected the Kantipur Complex. The emergency Board Meeting of Kantipur Publications was also convened and was participated by all heads of departments.

7. A police unit went to the Kantipur Press, about 3 kilometers away from the Publications headquarters, to provide security to the Printing Press.

8. Unionists stopped a Kantipur vehicle at Koteshwor, about a kilometer away from the office that was carrying Kantipur staffs and printing materials to the Press.

9. As the Board meeting was going on, central leaders of the Maoist trade union came in front of the Kantipur office and wanted to talk to MD. MD rejected.

10. The regular work in the press was going on. All the internal works of news department had been completed and the pages were sent to the printing press for the printing purpose. At around 2 AM, Unionists who displayed their ID cards to police and entered inside the press building disturbed the work at the Press. They damaged the control panel of the printing machine that’s key to the functioning of the press. The printing process was effectively stopped. The management says it will take about three days to fix the damaged equipment because the engineer must be brought from India. The printing machine couldn’t print about 150,000 copies of the national (Kathmandu) editions of the papers. [The Publications brought copies from Bharatpur (western edition) and distributed by the afternoon.]

11. The printing press machines in Bharatpur and Biratnagar were functioning.

Related Blogs and Links:

Editors’ Alliance condemns attack on Kantipur
Leaders, journos, professionals condemn attack on Kantipur
Down With Maoists: Press Freedom Will Prevail in Nepal (The Maoists, Ayatollahs of Nepal, obstruct the printing of two of the biggest and best known newspapers in the country)

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7 thoughts on “The Maoists and Press Freedom in Nepal: What Happened in Kantipur Yesterday”

  1. You sucks maoist. Kantipur will never close by such attacking because people are supporting it. we sure, you Maoist going to Rolpa and will finish from there too. How nepali people have aspected big changes from you? but it is so sad that you are dangerous than pro-king line in democratic nepal. stop everything in kantipur. you must reform your party. if you are serious go to election,otherwise you will not only sweep from Kathmandu but also from Rolpa and fianally your final destination will be hell. So, try to reform you and your party to be a part of Nepal. you have time and try to be popular and participate in election. Kantipur is very big support from people and world. you maoist are fighting in wrong place. i and we wish strong Kantipur. lets fight together against undemocratic activities.

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  2. We are deeply sorry to hear a terror attack on Kantipur publications in Nepal. This is not about attack on Kantipur rather a attack on the very right of the any Nepalese individuals right to operate a journalism as their professions. so we urge all Nepali brothers and sisters around globe to stand with kantipur publications. We have a another very very sorrowful news in Kapilbastu in Nepal and if Maoist would do any good things they would help people in Kapilbastu who are in very very need and pain.
    No where in the world in the history Communists have done any good works that support individuals right and freedom rather they destroy individuals very personal right to live without fear. This is a time all Nepalese need to rise up and fight for their rights before it gets too late.
    Nepal is crying for a brave men and women who can rise and fight against all these Maoist terrors. If anyone takes them as a political party and deals with them as politicians it will be the most wrong thing to do.
    Come on! isn’t any Brave Nepali is there to stand against there criminals group called Maoist in Nepal? if you Nepalese don’t fight for your right who will fight for you? This is not a time to sit back and watch what is happening to Kantipur or some one else. Today they destroy Kantipur property tomorrow they will destroy your property. By NB for
    Friends of Asia in USA.

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  3. Wagle, I have not forgetten ur blog when they first tried to interupt the publication. I knew very well about what u think. what is the meaning of democracy? only right of publication? there is nothing about labour? what is the mening of team of publication? only journalist? only their right?
    I dont mean kantipur publication should be punished like this way. Maoist didnt perform well but have u ever thought how did it come? why didnt you write even a single word when Kailash sirohiya fired emplyies and called police to arrest them who were on protest.
    I saw television on news, everyone was shouting for press freedom. they were not shouting press freedom if so they would write about those labour and their preotest. but no, i know now u and other r nt writing for ur press freedom u r writing for Kailash Sirohiya.
    Yasto awastha kasari aayo? ke ekaichoti kantipur publicatiob banda bhaeko ho ta? khai ta garib majdurko barema lekheko? khai ta uniharuko aandolanko barema lekheko? hamile ekaichoti patrika banda bhaepachhi thaha payau ki tyaha aandolan hudai rahechha. khai ta swatantra mediale lekheko?
    ahile patrika banda bhaepachhi karaune? khai ta garibka pakshama lekheko?
    tyatro kapilbastu jaler rak bhayo khai ta sat dalko baithak tatkal baseko? khai pradhanmantrile ekasabda boleko?
    wagle swatantra matra bhaera hunna nishpaksha pani hunuparchha. khai ti majdurko barema lekhieko jasale aafno hak magda jagir gumae ra ahile thunama chhan
    timiharu saba nokar jasto bhae mailkko chakari garer press freedomko kura nagar.

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  4. wagle swatantra matra bhaera hunna nishpaksha pani hunuparchha.

    wau, reader, u have a great point. Foreign Helpers! know nepalese journalists.

    Reader, i thank you. Wau!!! swatantra matra bhaera hunna nishpaksha pani hunuparchha…..

    great.

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  5. Like I said Wagle, If you play with the fire youll get burnt and dance with the devil, devil dances you, what you sow you reap. Rallying and supporting the maoist have boomrang you guys. Time to wake up and realize the maoist (facist).

    My condoleces to Kantipur.

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