Anti-Press Freedom Scandal in Nepal

Information sources affiliated to Nepal’s Election Commission have indicated that a latent royal election commission within the official election commission was able to stop an evening news and views program from being broadcast from Radio Nepal on April 6. While the program team was broadcasting the news and views coverage on the public speeches delivered by rebel leaders Prachanda and Dr. Baburam Bhattarai, they did not did not know that the program was limited to the studio room and it was not being transmitted to the public. Instead of the usual program, the technician was broadcasting long tunes. When some audience members themselves complained why the program was not being broadcast, the team members were then told that there was some technical trouble. But when the program time ended, the next program on queue was broadcast without any problem.

The sources claimed that there is a latent royal election commission within the existing official election commission headed by a monarchist bureaucrat. This underground force with a grip on Radio Nepal mechanisms has hijacked the program. “The regressive forces are against the peace process, and this is one of their efforts to prevent the mass media from broadcasting differing views.”

This happened in the evening of the same day when rebel leader Prachanda in the morning had emphasized on the need to reconsider the change-resisting and ideologically prejudiced mindset of the mass media.

Nepal’s Maoist rebels have been engaged in an intensive peace process for almost two years. They have agreed to join the mainstream peaceful politics on condition that other monarchist parties also agree on federalism, state restructuring and the abolition of monarchy. Because other parties agreed on the Maoist agenda, they agreed to deposit their arms and guerrillas in the cantonments monitored by the UN.

The Nepali Congress and the Emaalay, dragged hard by the Maoist rebels, have written ‘republic’ and ‘federalism’ in their Party documents as part of their formal decision to adjust to the peace process agenda, but in practice these parties have not yet come out of the monarchial circle of politics. International forces ideologically prejudiced against Nepal’s rebels have also encouraged these change-resisting parties to be highly offensive against Nepal’s progressive forces. However, the Nepalis have expressed their keen desire to see an opportunity for vast changes in the country.

The Radio Nepal scandal could be linked to this attitude of change-resisting parties. Their everyday media propaganda clearly shows their high level intolerance against any other political party that challenges the feudal monarchy and uni-structuralism.

As to the scandal, Radio Nepal Director Ram Sharan Karki said that he did not have any information about this. It shows it was part of reactionary conspiracy against progressive forces in the country. During king’s autocracy, too, radio stations were invaded and BBC-broadcasting equipment were grabbed from Radio Sagarmatha. This might be another pulse-check. But surprisingly, the major political parties, so busy in election campaigns, have not commented on this scandal. Even Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ), Election Commission, and national and international human rights institutions have not spoken on the anti-press freedom scandal.

Nepal’s champions of press freedom have not opened their mouth on this.