Thursday, February 3, 2005

Confusion Continues

I am writing this after watching news bulletin on the BBC World TV channel (there is no CNN). The BBC reporter at Kathmandu, Charles Haviland talked with the news anchor on a satellite phone and said that the ‘10 member government has been formed and most of them are the King’s allies.’ He also added that there has been reports of Maoists release by Prachanda who termed the move as ‘mediaeval feudalism’ and said the Maoists are ready to work with the ‘pro-people forces’.

The BBC news added that the King has been widely criticized for the move in home and abroad and ran a scroller saying that ‘US says deeply troubled by move’. Well, in fact yesterday, Indian foreign minister Natwar Singh talked on the matter with PM Manmohan Singh for an hour and later issued a release saying that India is deeply concerned with the move and demanded the well being of leaders under house arrest.

Yesterday night, after writing a portion of this, I watched a special program ‘Again Monarchy (Phir Rajtantra)’ in Aaj Tak channel which talked about everything – from how Gyanendra became the King to the aristocratic behaviours of Paras; from the Maoists problem with people’s suspect that the King was involved in the Royal Massacre.

This morning a through look at all the newspaper I got hold of confirmed that there is censorship in all but the largest publishing house, Kantipur Publications, was the one most feared.

Kantipur, the largest selling national daily, had a banner headline for the news of Rastriya Samachar Samiti about the proclamation and not even a single word in the whole paper about that could have been termed as ‘a bit good’. The Kathmandu Post suspended four-page daily supplement – City Post and came up with the same – all news of RSS not even a single piece by Post Reporter.

The Himalayan Times and Annapurna Post were ditto. THT had the banner main news with the abridged version of the speech (while most other put the original version in inside pages). Annapurna had a box anchor titled – ‘Intuitions welcomed royal proclamation.’

State-controlled Gorkhapatra had many good things to say about the proclamation ranging from special editorial on the front page (‘historical step for nation’s good’) to anchor (‘Royal Proclamation: timely step for overcoming crisis’) Inside pages too had good things including a photograph of motorcycle rally on the support of the move. Interestingly, Gorkhapatra had a first page advertisement from well-known industrialist Hulas Chand Golchha saying thank you to the King for the move.

Rajdhani daily was the bravest – with a special editorial (‘HM’s risky move’) that said the King’s move is timely and could take the Royal honor to a new height if he succeed in what he had promised and returned democracy but is risky. The editorial ended with the conclusion that ‘the re-establishment of the democracy is only possible in unity of the political parties and the King’.

The editorial is cleverly written – praising the King for his move and also warning him of negative consequences indirectly. It also carried a three-column news about house-arrest of the top leaders and the stoppage of communication including protest release by Nepal Bar Association.

The other news about state of emergency explicitly said there is censorship in newspapers (‘security personnel reached the Rajdhani office for censorship at eight o’clock in the evening’). The anchor too was balanced (‘People, somewhere happy, somewhere irritated’).

Nepal Samacharpatra, the other daily, too had a special editorial (‘King’s step and people’s hopes’). It was supportive to King’s step adding that people hope for peace in the country. The paper also carried a one-column news about the top-leaders being under house arrest and small one of India’s concern. On second page, another one-column news about the communication and aviation.

Two weeklies I got hold of were, Jana Aastha (known of its inside stories of the Royal family and army). Main news (‘Sher Bahadur’s migration along with dismissal’) sum up the overall condition of the country. It is descriptive in nature. It had an interesting cartoon – a man sending a pigeon with a letter and saying ‘go, now your era had began, again’. Ghatana Ra Bichar weekly (Royal supportive) had a double-deck banner (‘Democratic rule of 21st century begins under the King’s leadership’).

Nepal Samacharpatra had a small box news on the second page saying that all eveningers and weeklies has been closed from today.

This morning I heard the news about appointment of 10 in the government. All of them are close to the King, no doubt. I am still cut off with rest of the world with no telephone line. Some said that was running for an hour last night, but I missed it. No one knows what will happen next, there is state of confusion throughout the capital but everyone seems to be perfectly unconcerned. Offices are running and the rush of people is as same as earlier, tea-shop gossips are largely based on the king’s move and new ministers and personal experience without communication.

There has been no reports about the protest or such but people believe once the telephone lines start working, there will certainly be some. Two of the active political members told me that they are awaiting central committee’s ruling on all this (but since most of the leaders are under house arrest, will that happen soon?)

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