Lahan Municipality authority has been learnt to have decided to file a case against reporter Manilal Bishwakarma on August 24. Lahan lies in Province 2 of Nepal.
Talking to Freedom Forum, reporter Bishwakarma shared that he received a copy of municipality's executive committee meeting minutes three days back (September 29). The minute states the municipality had decided to file charge sheet under Electronic Transaction Act and public offense against him and a local Mahesh Chaudhary. The municipality had accused Chaudhary of distributing relief materials to the public without prior information to the municipality.
The decision came after his reporting on municipality's distribution of 'rotten raw foods as relief materials to the locals facing crisis' following lockdown to contain coronavirus pandemic. In the news published on April 14, he had also included photographs of the locals who had reached the ward office to return the distributed decayed food stuffs.
Reporter Bishwakarma further said that he was also issued several threats through social media pages and the municipality’s authorities following the publication of the news. He however said, “I am ready to face whatever the consequences but I will not stop writing on such serious of government irresponsibility and irregularities.”
Freedom Forum is alarmed over the decision of the local authority against the journalist. While most of the people lost their earning in this pandemic, government’s relief is the major support to live. But such irresponsible behaviour of the local government towards its citizens and to the journalist is condemnable.
Hence, FF strongly urges the concerned authority to correct the decision respecting journalists’ right to free reporting and cooperate with those for good governance at this time of crisis instead.
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