AUGUST 1, 2005
Posted: August 2, 2005
Harihar Singh Rathour, Kantipur and Kathmandu PostPushkar Thapa, Annapurna Post
Kamal Neupane, Nepal Samacharpatra
Security forces in Nepal’s mid-western Dailekh district harassed the three journalists in retaliation for their reports alleging that the Royal Nepalese Army recruited children to work as informants.
Harihar Singh Rathour, a reporter for Kantipur daily and Kathmandu Post; Pushkar Thapa, a reporter for the daily Annapurna Post; and Kamal Neupane, a reporter for Nepal Samacharpatra followed instructions to report to Major Hikmat Bista at the army barracks of the Bhawani Baks battalion, according to the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) and the local human rights group INSEC. A fourth person, INSEC representative Naman Kumar Shahi, was also summoned.
FNJ reported in a statement that the major asked the journalists and the human rights worker to issue corrections to their reports that the army was training children to participate in its fight against Maoist rebels. They refused to issue corrections and maintained that their reports were accurate.
The harassment followed several related incidents in the days since the newspapers first carried their reports.
The chief of the Bhawani Baks battalion wrote a July 26 letter to Rathour, calling his July 20 Kathmandu Post report, “RNA using Dullu kids as informants,” misleading and summoning the journalist to the army barracks to provide clarification, according to INSEC. On July 28, the journalist reported to the barracks and submitted a written statement testifying to the article’s accuracy, according to local news reports.
The following day, security forces took Neupane, Thapa, and Shahi to the local army barracks and interrogated them about their own reports on the allegations, according to INSEC.
On July 31, security forces took Neupane and Shahi to the army barracks, where they were directed to provide fingerprints, according to local and international news reports. Security personnel threatened the two men by hinting that the army could label them Maoists, according to news reports and FNJ sources.