Growing concern for missing journalist in Nepal

New York , October 12, 2007 – The Committee to Protect Journalists is increasingly concerned about the fate of missing journalist Birendra Shah as political pressure mounts in Nepal to find him. CPJ called for the release of Shah, who reports for Nepal FM, Dristi Weekly, and Avenues TV, on Wednesday. He was abducted by local Maoist cadres in Bara district in central Nepal, according to the Federation of Nepalese Journalists.

“We are very concerned for safety of Birendra Shah, who has been missing for a week,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “We welcome the recognition of the urgency of this case within Nepal and hope that it produces immediate information about Shah’s whereabouts.”

At a special parliamentary session last night, Communist Party Nepal-Maoist spokesman Krishna Mahara said his group would not obstruct the government if it took action against the cadres involved during a special parliamentary session last night, according to Kishor Shrestha, editor of the Kathmandu-based weekly Jana Aastha.Shrestha spoke with an advisor to Mahara who confirmed that the party was unable to locate Shah despite intensifying pressure to release him. Shrestha told CPJ that he feared Shah might already have been killed. 

Regional police chief Kiran Gautam told CPJ that the search for Shah continues. “As far as we know he is still alive,” he said.

Journalists concerned for Shah’s safety staged a sit-in protest in front of parliament yesterday afternoon, according to local news reports.