KMG Chairman Sirohiya arrested to put media under pressure: Editors

Published On: May 22, 2024 07:51 PM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, May 22: Editors of various mainstream media outlets have stated that the arrest of Kailash Sirohiya, Chairman of Kantipur Media Group (KMG), was intended to create pressure and instill fear in the press.

In a joint letter to Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, 31 editors expressed concern over the circumstances and allegations surrounding Sirohiya’s arrest, questioning the motives behind it.

“We believe the arrest from within a media house is a deliberate attempt to intimidate the press. Government agencies have not previously interrogated Sirohiya regarding these allegations,” the editors wrote.

They also highlighted the actions of Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Rabi Lamichhane, who has reportedly exhibited hostility towards the media following reports about the misappropriation of around one billion rupees involving him and Gorkha Media Network, where he was a partner.

“We urge the prime minister to ensure an impartial police investigation against Lamichhane and to facilitate an environment conducive to prosecuting the case fairly,” the letter stated.

The editors reaffirmed their commitment to press freedom, the rule of law, and their responsibilities, emphasizing that they will not compromise in defending these principles.

Full text of the Editors’ joint letter to Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal:

Right honourable prime minister

We editors working at major media outlets in Nepal want to draw your attention to a recent case of arrest from a media house:

1. Police arrested Kantipur Media Group Chairman Kailash Sirohiya from his office on Tuesday. All citizens should equally abide by the laws of the land and Sirohiya should be punished as per the law if he has done anything against it. Sirohiya himself has publicly said that he is ready for that.

2. The context and the allegations levelled against him and the modus operandi of his arrest have raised serious questions. We have taken the arrest from inside a media house as intended to create pressure and fear on the press. The government agencies have never interrogated Sirohiya about the allegations. Yesterday he was suddenly arrested over some technical issues of his citizenship certificate. This issue will now be resolved by the court.

3. Mr Prime Minister, we want to remind you—Rabi Lamichhane was not a Nepali citizen when he first became home minister in your Cabinet. Though he re-acquired Nepal’s citizenship following a court order, he was and is someone who can be punished for simultaneously holding passports of two countries.

4. We also want to make it clear why Home Minister Rabi Lamichhane has recently been attacking the media with animosity. The problem of cooperative fraud has become severe. Billions of rupees deposited by millions of Nepalis in cooperatives have been misappropriated, and they have not received their own deposits back. Media has continuously reported on around one billion rupees misappropriated by Rabi Lamichhane and Gorkha Media Network, where Lamichhane was one of the partners.

While addressing a Parliament meeting, he claimed that he was a victim of a ‘media trial’. However, investigations conducted at the municipal level and by Nepal Police’s Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) have established that he and the media company he managed embezzled cooperative funds. The home minister has prevented prosecution and the filing of charges against him by abusing power. We also want to draw the prime minister’s attention to this matter and remind you that it is your responsibility to ensure that the police investigation against Lamichhane moves ahead and builds an environment for prosecuting the case against him impartially.

5. We editors, who have been working in Nepali media for a long time, are well aware of press freedom, rule of law and our responsibilities. And we also want to make it clear that we won’t make any compromise when it comes to defending them and fulfilling our responsibilities.

Akhanda Bhandari, Annapurna Post

Ameet Dhakal, Setopati

Arun Baral, Khabarhub

Basanta Basnet, Onlinekhabar

Bijay Paudel, Kantipur TV

Bimal Gautam, Lokaantar

Biswas Baral, The Kathmandu Post

Durga Khanal, Ekantipur

Gunaraj Luintel, Nagarik

Hari Bahadur Thapa, Baahrakhari

Kamal Dev Bhattarai, The Annapurna Express

Kiran Nepal, Centre for Investigative Journalism-Nepal

Koshraj Koirala, Republica

Kosmos Bishwakarma

Madan Lamsal, Arthik Abhiyan

Prakash Rimal

Prateek Pradhan, Baahrakhari

Purna Basnet, Nepalkhabar

Pushpa Dulal, Clickmandu

Rajaram Gautam

Ram Prasad Dahal, Ratopati

Rameshwar Bohara, Ukaalo

Rupesh Shrestha, Kantipur TV

Sagar Pandit, Nepal Samacharpatra

Sanjeev Satgainya

Saroj Mishra, Rajdhani

Shiva Gaunle, Onlinekhabar

Sudheer Sharma

Sujit Mahat, Ukaalo

Umesh Chauhan, Kantipur

Yubraj Ghimire, Deshsanchar


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