Nepal erupts in protests at attack on journalist

Nepal erupts in protests at attack on journalist Kathmandu, Dec 10 : Hundreds of journalists staged protest marches across Nepal Thursday, condemning the brutal attack on a young radio journalist in western Nepal and demanding tough punishment for the attackers who left her to die on a remote hill.

The Federation of Nepalese Journalists, the powerful umbrella organisation of journalists in Nepal that had played a leading role in the struggle for democracy during King Gyanendra's army-backed regime, held rallies in the capital and major towns outside as well as a sit-in before the district administration authorities, urging an end to impunity.

Tika Bista, a reporter with a local radio station Sisne FM as well as Nepali dailies, was found unconscious in Rukim district Tuesday evening with deep gashes inflicted on the head, arms and legs.

Her laptop and mobile telephone were smashed by the attackers who apparently left her to die in the secluded spot.

Doctors at Kathmandu's Model Hospital, where Bista was airlifted for treatment, said Thursday her condition was stable.

The Nepali media alleges that Bista was attacked because of an article she wrote in a local publication criticising the leaders of the opposition Maoist party for resorting to threats and intimidation.

She was said to have been receiving death threats since the article was published.

Rukum is a stronghold of the former Maoist guerrillas.

International media bodies also condemned the attack.

"The media environment for journalists has not improved since Nepal's transition to democratic rule in 2008," said Bob Dietz, Asia programme coordinator of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.

"Police must investigate the death threats Bista received and bring the perpetrators of this vicious attack to justice."

Though both the Maoists and the security forces targeted journalists during the 10-year communist insurgency, Nepal nonetheless was stunned this year when one of the most promising journalists in its Terai plains - a region where daughters are not encouraged to go to school - was hacked to death in her own apartment.

Uma Singh, a talented radio and print journalist who wrote against domestic violence in the Terai and the dowry curse, was killed, according to police, by her own sister-in-law over a property dispute.

This month, the UN agency for human rights in Nepal noted with concern that the Maoists had promoted two members in the Terai, who have been accused of abducting and killing in 2007 journalist Birendra Shah, who wrote about Maoist involvement in sandalwood smuggling.(IANS)