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.
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.”
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)