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Journalist targeted by police in alleged murder plot

(Freedom Forum/IFEX) - Freedom Forum is shocked to learn about a plot being allegedly hatched by Sub-Inspector of Police Manoj Poudel, to kill journalist Abadhes Kumar Jha. Jha is a reporter with the Kantipur and the Kathmandu Post dailies from Sunsari, a district in the southern plain of the eastern part of Nepal. The murder plot came to light on 21 July 2012.

Journalist Jha told Freedom Forum that he received an audio clip of a conversation involving SI Poudel. In the recording, the sub-inspector can be heard ordering some unknown persons to attack the journalist and break his hands and legs.

The sub-inspector used the local Maithili language in the conversation. He is heard saying that he would be retiring within a week and wanted to finish off Jha.

When questioned about any animosity with SI Poudel, journalist Jha said, "I had written a news story about a stolen motorcycle being used by SI Poudel last year. Since then, he has been talking with his friends about attacking me and threatening me."

Freedom Forum notes that it is grave and condemnable that SI Poudel, who himself is a member of the police administration, a state body responsible for providing security, posed this serious challenge to a journalist's life. It is noteworthy that a state official tasked with protecting citizens from risk is showing hostility towards a journalist merely for informing the public about certain malpractices.

Therefore, this is not only a case of press freedom violation but also of a violation of the right to life.

Freedom Forum strongly urges the District Police Office, Inaruwa, to bring to book SI Poudel following a thorough investigation into the incident.

Freedom Forum will continue to monitor any developments in the case.

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