Sharma, editor of the Nepali-language weekly Kadam, was kidnapped by Maoist rebels on June 1 and later killed, according to a team of journalists and human rights activists organized by the government’s National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). The NHRC visited Kalikot District, where Sharma lived, as part of an August mission to Nepal’s remote midwestern region. The group learned of his murder from local residents and police.
Nepal’s Maoist rebels, who have been fighting a guerrilla war since 1996 to overthrow the country’s constitutional monarchy, control portions of the country, including much of Kalikot and neighboring districts.
Maoist fighters kidnapped Sharma from the Kalikot District village of Syuna on June 1, according to members of the NHRC team. The national English-language newspaper The Kathmandu Post reported that police recovered Sharma’s badly mutilated body from the area in mid-August. Rebels had gouged out his eyes, cut his hands and legs, and shot him in the chest, police told the NHRC team.
Sharma, who lived in the village of Sipkhana, which is adjacent to Syuna, was known as an independent journalist. He had been working at Kadam since 1998 and was formerly the editor of the local newspaper Karnali Sandesh, according to the Kathmandu-based Center for Human Rights and Democratic Studies (CEHURDES). A CEHURDES representative was part of the NHRC team that visited the area.
Sharma was also a local schoolteacher, but local press sources said it appeared that he was targeted for his journalism. One journalist said that Sharma had refused pressure from the rebels to turn Kadam into a Maoist propaganda organ.