Death threat to journalist for news coverage: Press freedom sinks rock bottom

KATHMANDU, Nov 12: The head of Yoho Television and adviser to the Nepal Press Council (NPC) journalist Shiv Lamsal has been threatened with death regarding the publication of news.

Lamsal was threatened regarding coverage against Blue Cross Hospital Tripureshwor’s Executive Director Rajat Shrestha.

Lamsal had covered a news story about a patient who died at the Blue Cross Hospital while undergoing treatment. The relatives and kin of the deceased protested against the negligence and the process of treatment which was covered in a television program.

Lamsal has been threatened with his life since then. The NPC and the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) had taken out separate press releases regarding the matter.

The NPC general secretary Ajay Babu Siwakoti in the press release states “if there are any issues regarding the publication of news please follow the procedures for dissent. The responsibility given to a person like Rajat Shrestha and his threatening call to the journalist has exposed the weakness of the hospital”.

The FNJ general secretary Ramesh Bista took out a press release stating that “We have noted the issue with seriousness that for publication of news regarding Blue Cross Hospital the executive director Rajat Shrestha has threatened to take physical action against FNJ member and head of Yoho television Shiv Lamsal”.

Since a patient died while undergoing treatment at the Blue Cross hospital in Tripureshwor and the news was covered by Lamsal, the executive director Shrestha continuously abused him over messages sent on facebook, and called him over the phone threatening to kill him.

Publication of news that has dissatisfaction among people can always dissent with various legally available procedures.

This incident has hurt press freedom and has gone against the principle of disseminating information. Threatening journalists is a crime against the foundations of democracy and the government should look into this matter with utmost seriousness.

Legal action needs to be initiated against Shrestha for threatening a journalist to kill him, this will not only protect press freedom, and it will also restore its esteem.