Photographer Navesh Chitrakar after he was injured with his broken lens.
Photo courtesy: Bikash Karki
According to worldaudit.org, Nepal is at no. 87 in press freedom. Working as a photographer in a daily newspaper, I totally understand why.
Many times journalists have been threatened, beaten up and killed too. A recent case is the attack on journalist Khilanath Dhakal in Biratnagar. He was badly beaten up because of a news he wrote. The accused attacker Parshuram Basnet is the Chairman of YCL, Morang. YCL is the wing association of UML, who is leading the government. So, he was released few hours after his arrest.
As usual, journalists are now in protest demanding action against Parshuram Basnet. But last Thursday, there was a protest at Shankar Dev College by students after Basnet was arrested. The traditional Nepali protest. Burning tyres, throwing stones at the police. That day they were targeting media persons. Media persons in such places means photographers and TV camerapersons.
A friend of mine, Navesh Chitrakar got injured and his lens broke. Other photographers managed to escape. I reached a little late unaware of the situation. As soon as they saw me, all the photographers yelled at me to take off my press jackeet. I didn’t know that photographers were the targets of protesters. I later found that I was lucky to escape unharmed. I had walked all alone from the protesters’ side with my press jacket on and had been taking pictures too.
Photographers have suffered many times. A fellow photographer and colleague at Nagarik, Bijay Rai’s lens was broken in a clash. Along with him, other photogrpher friends, Niranjan Shrestha, Sanjog Manandhar, Niraj Sapkota were beaten up by the police at Chabahil. It’s not only the protesters that we have to be careful of but the police too. And people who are not satisfied with the news published, also point at us, “yi patrakar haru…”
After the end of monarchy, Nepalis got ‘loktantra’. They got freedom. Freedom to do anything they want. Freedom to block the roads, to stage strikes, to demand, to kidnap, to kill and to speak. But only those who hold party flags have such freedom.