New York, March 3, 2010—Police in Nepal must immediately investigate Monday’s fatal shooting of publisher and business owner Arun Singhaniya, the second murder of a media executive in the country in a month, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
An unidentified group on motorcycles shot Singhaniya at point-blank range near his home in southern Dhanusa district around 6 p.m. on Monday, killing him instantly, according to local news reports. Singhaniya was the chairman of the Today Group, which publishes the daily Janakpur Today and Radio Today, the reports said. Gunmen in Kathmandu shot and killed Jamim Shah, a television network chairman, on February 8. Police have yet to determine the motive in that case, and the two murders are not known to be related.
“Police must thoroughly investigate Arun Singhaniya’s murder, the latest in a series of vicious attacks on Nepal’s press,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “The government must do more to address the climate of impunity it has allowed to flourish following acts of violence against journalists.”
It is not clear whether Singhaniya’s death was connected to coverage in his news outlets. “It does look very ominous, since they killed Uma Singh, who worked for his radio and newspaper last year,” Nepali Times editor Kunda Dixit told CPJ by e-mail. Dixit recently reported on news outlets threatened for investigating Jamim Shah’s death on the CPJ Blog.
At least three groups—armed factions of a campaign for political autonomy for the ethnic Madhesis concentrated in Nepal’s southern Terai plains—made unverified claims to have killed Singhaniya, news reports said. Organizations in the Terai have threatened journalists for their reporting in the past, according to CPJ research. Criminal groups also use the threat of violence to extort money from wealthy business owners in the region, according to news reports.
Janakpur Today and Radio Today reporter Uma Singh was stabbed to death in January 2009 in reprisal for her reporting. Local journalists say the case has yet to be effectively investigated. Nepal placed eighth on CPJ’s 2009 Impunity Index, a list of countries which have consistently failed to solve journalist murders.
Editor’s note: The original text of this alert has been modified to correct the spelling of the victim’s name.