Reporters Without Borders is saddened and outraged by regional media owner Arun Singhaniya’s murder in Janakpur, a city in southern Nepal’s troubled Terai region, on 1 March. Claimed by several armed groups operating in the Terai, the killing has highlighted the lack of tolerance for independent media.
Reporters Without Borders has added the Terai’s armed groups to its list of “Predators of Press Freedom.”
“This murder of a respected media owner is a result of violence that has been endemic in southern Nepal for several years,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Neither the Nepalese government nor the local political parties have succeeded or even tried to rein in the mounting violence and gangsterism. It is time the security forces accepted that they have a duty to protect journalists, including media owners.”
Singhaniya’s murder comes just three weeks after another media owner, Jamim Shah, was killed in the capital. The police say they have established that a mafia group of Indian origin was involved in Shah’s death.
Gunned down by two men on a motorcycle, Singhaniya, 50, ran the Janakpur Today Media Group, which included a daily newspaper, Janakpur Today, a radio station, Radio Today, and a website. Journalists’ organisations staged demonstrations in several Nepalese cities today to condemn his murder.
A Radio Today reporter, Uma Singh, was murdered on 11 January but it is believed the motives were personal rather than linked to her work as a journalist.
News media based in the Terai are forced to censor themselves because of constant threats from armed groups. Sanjaya Sah of the Jana Pratibimba Daily newspaper was threatened in Birgunj, another city in the Terai, on 17 February by Janatantrik Tarai Mukti Morcha, a local armed group that did not like the way it had been covered in his articles.