CHITWAN, Aug 18: Friends and families of journalist Salikram Pudasaini who was found hanging in Kangaru Hotel of Chitwan on 5 August demonstrated for a fair and free investigation into the case on Saturday. They raised their voice for justice in front of the District Police Office of Chitwan where fans of TV journalist Rabi Lamichhane, who is in police custody in connection with the case, had protested for his quick release. In numbers, Lamichhane's fans were way bigger than those chanting slogans for a free investigation into the case and justice for Pudasaini.
Lamichhane's supporters who had clashed with police injuring seven of them on Friday scuffled with them even on Saturday. Police and protesters clashed several times though no big harm on either side has been reported. Police fired tear gas shells to disperse the crowd.
According to the spokesperson for the District Police Office, Chitwan, DSP Ek Narayan Koirala, Lamichhane's supporters had pelted stones at a police van and it had to use two rounds of tear gas shells to take the situation under control. "They pelted stones at a police vehicle. Then we had to use force to disperse the crowd," he reported. "A policeman has been slightly injured."
While Lamichhane's supporters accused the government of trying to frame an 'innocent man' in the case, Pudasaini's people were chanting different slogans. They chanted slogans like - "Let the state machinery work', 'let the investigation be fair', 'Pudasaini should get justice', 'Don't politicize crime'. They had carried placards in hands.
Pudasaini, a local of Belkotgadhi Municipality – 3 had worked closely with Lamichhane for 'Janatasanga Sidha Kura', a TV show telecast by News24, that has made Lamichhane popular among the people. Pudasaini had left the show just two months ago to join some other media. A video recorded before his death shows him accusing Lamichhane and two others of inciting him for suicide. In the video, he repeats several times that Lamichhane is "a criminal under the guise of a journalist" and should be brought to justice.
The police had arrested Lamichhane, Yubaraj Kandel, a journalist with News24 and Asmita Karki, a nurse from Okhaldunga, and brought them to Chitwan on Thursday night. They were produced before the district court on Friday where Judge Binod Kumar Sharma allowed the trio's detention for five days.