Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Defying Court Orders

Two student leaders Rajendra Rai and Rup Narayan Shrestha were ordered to be released by the Supreme Court on May 16. The policemen were ready to re-arrest them inside the court premises - as soon as they came out along with their lawyers, police tried to arrest them despite protests from lawyers, journalists and followers. Rai was arrested while Shrestha was avoided it by the help of his supporters.

Similar incident happened two weeks ago to Gagan Kumar Thapa and Pradeep Paudel. Both were released by Supreme Court, they signed the papers and were re-arrested.

On May 18, a few communist leaders were released by court orders but the lawyers and others had to do a lot of exercise to keep him away from re-arrest. There were two police vans inside the court premises which were later removed after the registrar inquired about it.

Nepal Bar Association staged a protest to raise voice against such unlawful activities and the Home Minister Dan Bahadur Shahi met Chief Justice on May 18. Probably he told the CJ to be careful about such decisions but his answer to the journalists' query about re-arrest was simple: The Supreme Court ordered to release them. Did it say not to re-arrest them?

All these shows the situation in Nepal hasn't improved despite the 100 days of the King's rule were over. The king had previously promised the international communities to improve the situation in 100 days - but had he forget about the promise? Or what's going on is the improvement of situation?

Things look glum for us who want democracy to be restored soon since the Indian government flip-flopped from its earlier reactions and resumed the military support (though the Indian PM said only vehicles). India as a big neighbor of Nepal has always wanted to keep the tiny country under their grip and has a lot of things to bargain for. I don't know what they have bargained this time but am sure that the partial support to the King didn't come without a price.

Meanwhile, the hard days for journalists aren't over yet. On May 18, the government grilled publisher of Himal magazine and noted journalists Kanak Mani Dixit. Similarly, Dev Kumar Subedi of Surkhet district working for Samaya Weekly was handed over a three-month detention on May 14.

On 14 May 2005, newly elected Federation of Nepalese Journalists President, Bishnu Nisthuri and General Secretary, Mahendra Bista cancelled a trip to Islamabad, Pakistan to attend a South Asia Parliamentary Forum. Nisthuri and Bista cancelled their trip in solidarity for security personnel unconstitutionally barring Nabaraj Subedi, the General Secretary of People's Front Nepal and former parliamentarian from travelling as part of the delegation of senior media personalities and political leaders to Islamabad.

Similarly, journalists have been denied access to prepaid mobile phone use two weeks after Nepalese authorities resumed the service. Yubaraj Ghimire, editor, Samay Weekly; Taranath Dahal, former FNJ President; Gunraj Luitel, news editor, Kantipur Daily; Puskar Lal Shrestha, editor, Nepal Samacharptra and Ujir Magar, sub-editor, Kantipur Daily have all been denied access to prepaid mobile phone service.

On May 15, FNJ President, Bishnu Nisthuri was allowed to visit Bhaikaji Ghimire, managing director of Sam Dristi Weekly in Nakhu Jail, Kathmandu. Ghmire has been kept in custody for 18 months without an arrest warrant or appearing before a judicial court reportedly in connection to an article he published "Nirnayak Yatra" (The deciding voyage).

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