Writing on the front pages of Kantipur and The Kathmandu Post, the editors of the papers today say that a high-ranking official from a foreign diplomatic mission (Indian mission) in Kathmandu had called them on Friday night to inquire if they were interested in publishing the alleged Mahara conversation with a man with Chinese accent. Kantipur editor writes that they, along with about a dozen other Nepali editors, were having regular informal discussions with the Chinese ambassador in Baluwatar when the call from the diplomat came to the Post editor. “We have a recorded telephone conversation, can you publish it?” said the diplomat.
“What’s that about?”
“You will know once you listen to it,” was the reply to Upadhyay.
Later we learned from other sources that the conversation was between Maoist leader KB Mahara and a man alleged to be Chinese. But it was not clear who that “Chinese” was and the telephone numbers on which the conversation took place. It was also not clear how that was recorded. The caller only wanted to know if we could publish that conversation today. (continue reading Kantipur editor’s account in Nepali below)
By Akhilesh Upadhyay
Editor, The Kathmandu Post (on the front page, today)
Not everyday do newspapers feel the need to explain to their readers why they did what they did. Many of you may have wondered—some have aloud to our ears—why the Kathmandu Post on Saturday did not carry a news item which has otherwise received great prominence in some papers. This demands an explanation. The issues at hand are of utmost gravity. The story in question is about the allegation that China was all set to make a huge cash infusion to the Maoist party to influence the outcome of the sixth round of prime ministerial election slated for Sunday.
According to the news carried in some newspapers and TV networks on Friday night and Saturday morning, China had assured the Maoist leadership of Rs. 500 million. The money, the news suggests, would be enough to garner support of 50 non-Maoist lawmakers whose backing in turn would be enough to elect UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal as the prime minister. The story obviously implicates China in high-stake horse trading. Naturally then, some ran the story with a caveat: Authenticity of the leaked audio tape of the conversation between Maoist leader Krishna Bahadur Mahara and “a Chinese official”, on which the story rests, could not be independently established. Continue reading Indian Embassy in Kathmandu and Alleged Maoist-‘Chinese’ Phone Conversation