KATHMANDU, Nov 26: The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology has instructed the state-run media not to run critical news on Nirmala Panta rape case.
In a recent meeting with the heads of state-run media organizations, Communications and Information Technology Minister Gokul Baskota urged them not to publish critical news on the rape case. Editors of Gorkhapatra, Rastriya Samachar Samiti, Radio Nepal and Nepal Television were summoned at the ministry where Minister Baskota urged the state-run media to extend the government ‘constructive support’ in the case.
“Don’t provoke the public by running stories on Nirmala rape case,” a source told Republic quoting Minister Baskota as saying at the meeting.
Minister Baskota had summoned the editors and managerial heads of the state-run media organizations and sought their ‘constructive support’ to counter anti-government news.
At the meeting Minister Baskota had expressed his dissatisfaction over the private sector media’s coverage of the Nirmala rape and murder case and other issues related to the president and the government.
Nirmala, a 13-year-old schoolgirl from Kanchanpur district, was found raped and murdered on July 27, a date after she went missing, near her home. So far, the government has not been able to arrest the culprit(s) involved in the crime. Instead, it is accused of destroying evidences.
Parents of Nirmala had started an indefinite sit-in in Kanchanpur but the girl’s father, Yagya Raj Panta, has been brought to Kathmandu on Sunday for treatment after he showed signs of mental illness after days of sit-in.
Gorkhapatra has not mentioned even a single word about Yagya Raj Panta’s condition in its Sunday edition. Other state-run media have also shunned the issue.
“Journalists working here were already practising self-censorship on the issue. They were not giving priority to Nirmala’s rape case since she was murdered,” a journalist working with the Gorkhapatra told Republica.
State-run media, according to the reporters working there, have never prioritized the Nirmala rape case. “They covered the issue only after the probe committee submitted its report to the government and Nirmala’s parents visited the prime minister and home minister,” said the reporter.