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Nepal journalists march to punish slain peer’s killers


Kathmandu : Dozens of Nepali journalists marched in capital city Kathmandu Wednesday as part of their fresh campaign to get justice for a slain peer who was abducted and killed by Maoist guerrillas.

Nepal’s ‘Daniel Pearl’ saga took a fresh turn as Press Chautari, a group of Nepali journalists — in conjunction with other media groups — began a new campaign to force the government into punishing the killers of broadcast journalist Birendra Shah.

Three Maoists, including the rebels’ district leader Lal Bahadur Chaudhary, abducted Shah — a stringer with a private television and radio station — from Bara district in the troubled Terai plains more than a month ago.

The rebels marched Shah off to a nearby forest where he was shot dead and his body buried.

Though his family lodged a complaint with the police and named his abductors, the administration failed to take any action for fear of Maoist anger.

However, Nepali journalists took the matter up and their sustained campaign forced the guerrillas to admit that three of their men were behind the killing.

However, the Maoist leadership sought to distance itself from the murder, which had triggered widespread condemnation both at home and abroad, saying Shah was killed due to personal enmity.

Almost a fortnight after a Maoist committee formed to investigate the incident admitted that Chaudhary and two more associates were involved, the killers are yet to be brought to justice.

There is speculation that they might have fled to India. Though the Maoist leadership is suspected of being in touch with the fugitives, they have however failed to hand the trio over to police.

Nepal’s media associations Wednesday said they would continue their protests till the government paid compensation to Shah’s family and punished his killers.

Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula, and the government have come under intense criticism for failing to take action against Shah’s killers.

Koirala had promised Shah’s wife Umrawati — who came to Kathmandu with her two young children to discover her husband’s fate — that his whereabouts would be found out in 72 hours. However, the promise remained an empty one.

Even as media groups try to wrest justice for Shah, the fate of another journalist remains unknown even four months after his disappearance.

Prakash Thakuri was abducted from remote Kanchanpur district in western Nepal, allegedly by the powerful youth wing of the Maoists — the Young Communist League (YCL).

Like in Shah’s case, the YCL has denied any involvement and for want of public pressure, the missing scribe’s fate remains unknown.