KATHMANDU: The CPN-UML boycotted a scheduled meeting of the political coordination committee, which was supposed to be attended by Prime Minister Puspa Kamal Dahal, as a mark of protest against the Maoist attack on Himalmedia Pvt Ltd on Sunday.
The UML also issued a statement condemning the Maoists for "brutal attack" on Himalmedia. The party demanded an immediate action against those involved in the attack. “Any attempt to protect those culprits will bring a serious consequence on the Maoist,” the statement, issued by UML Politburo member Iswor Pokharel, said.
Later, former CPN-UML General Secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal visited the Himalmedia office and expressed solidarity with the media.
“This is condemnable attack and is aimed at intimidating the free press," Nepal said after the visit.
Altogether 12 staffers of the media house were injured when Maoist-affiliated trade unionists led by Ramesh Babu Panta, the chairman of All Nepal Hotel and Restaruant Workers´ Union, stormed a meeting room of the office and beat up journalists and other staff indiscriminately Sunday afternoon. They also vandalized the newsroom and marketing department.
However, the Maoist trade union denied the charges and instead accused Himalmedia of attacking its members...
Journalist Damabar Krishna Shrestha talking about the attack.
The attackers beat up and injured editor and publisher of Nepali Times weekly Kunda Dixit, publication’s Chief Executive Officer Ashutosh Tiwari, journalist Dambar Krishna Shrestha and Finance Manager Bindira Shakya, among others, accusing Himalmedia of publishing reports against Maoist-affiliated trade union.
Himal Khabarpatrika, a fortnightly Nepali publication of Himalmedia, in its latest edition has published a cover story about anarchist activities of Maoist trade union.
The attackers had stormed Himalmedia meeting hall at 12 p.m. when the a weekly managerial meeting was in progress. “A group of attackers entered the meeting room and asked us about Rameshwar Bohara and why we reported against their trade union. Then they accused us of crossing legal limitats while publishing the news,” said Kiran Nepal, editor of Himal Khabarpatrika.
Then, they started attacking Tiwari and others indiscriminately, according to Nepal. This is the third attack on the publication house in a row by the Maoist trade union which is at odds with the publications for over a year over labor issues.
“This is not a labor issue, this is associated with press freedom. This is deliberate and coordinated attack on media,” Dixit said on the attack.
But Maoist trade union leader Salikram Jammakattel accused Himamedia of attacking his cadres. “Himalmedia attacked our colleagues,” he said. “It called our 16 colleagues who were dismissed from the publication for negotiation. When they reached the publication office for negotiation, over a dozen hooligans hired by the publication beat them up,” Jammakattel told myrepublica.com.
Meanwhile, many senior leaders visited the Himalmedia office in the afternoon.
UML leaders including KP Oli, Amrit Bohora, Ishwor Pokharel and Constituent Assembly (CA) members including Navindra Raj Joshi from the NC inspected the vandalized office. They said it was a ´criminal attack´ against independent media.
In the meantime, human and media rights organizations have condemned the attack and demanded action against the culprits.
Kanak Mani Dixit, editor and publisher of Himal Khabarpatrika, said that the attack would not intimidate them and they would carry on the war as before.