SURKHET, Jan 26: A group of Dailekh-based journalists, who fled to Surkhet after their lives were threatened by Young Communist League (YCL) cadres, still feel danger hovering over them.
Twenty-two journalists, including chief of the Dailekh district chapter of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) Puskar Thapa, had moved to Surkhet on January 24 for their own safety.
Even after reaching Surkhet, Thapa is uncertain about their security. "The danger is always there. We can´t return to Dailkeh unless we are cordoned in with complete security measures," he said.
Panic had spread like wildfire among the journalists after YCL cadres threatened to kill 10 more journalists just like Dekendra Thapa eight years ago.
"After the killing of Dekendra, our lives were always in danger," said former chief of FNJ Bishnu Nisthuri.
"The situation got worst for us following the dispute that broke out after the prime minister´s Dailekh visit. Even after learning that his visit would aggravate the situation, he went there. It was an intentional act," added Nisthuri.
Another journalist, Bhupendra Skahi, informed that they would return to Dailkeh only after receiving complete assurances from the government in writing about their safety. "Fearing attack, I didn´t dare to step out of my house for 10 days. I shall return when things calm down completely," said Shahi.
Gobinda Dev Bharati, editor of Dailekh-based Hamro Tesro Akha daily newspaper, claimed that Maoist district in-charge Karna Basnet had threaten him directly to kill him. "He threatened me, saying that his 50 cadres were enough to seize the market, and journalists didn´t have to show their power," Basnet said.
Yagya Raj Thapa, brother of murdered journalist Dekendra Thapa, said that the YCL cadres had plotted to dislodge the journalists in order to abort the Dekendra murder case. "The recent posting elsewhere of the local police chief, who was undertaking the investigations, was also meant to shield the culprits who killed my brother," said Thapa.
"We were compelled to leave Dailkeh after we kept receiving death threaths and writing of news became impossible," added Thapa, who is editor of Dailkeh-based Nepal Samacharpatra daily.
Meanwhile, Surkhet-based journalists along with the displaced journalists from Dailekh staged an hour-long protest rally outside the Surkhet Regional Administration Office.
During the protest, Surya Mani Gautam, central member of NFJ, commented that the displacement of journalists was a shame not only for NFJ but the government also. "The government should ensure complete security for the journalists to return to Dhailekh," said Gautam.