The history of Nepali press is not very old (click Nepali Media for details). But the role played by Nepali press in disseminating information as well as educating the people about the value of civil rights and freedom is indeed quite remarkable.
With the country’s tumultuous political history, Nepali Press has experienced both good and bad times. Interestingly, however, the good times are associated with Democracy and bad times with the State’s suppression of Democracy in the country.
After considerable suffering, the press heaved a sigh of relief with the fall of Ranas and inception of Democracy in 1951. But the joys of freedom granted by newly found democracy was short-lived as Democracy was throttled in less than ten years in 1960, when King Mahendra overthrew the elected government and introduced the party-less Panchayat system. The thirty years that followed remained a dark period for the Nepali press, yet it played significant role in spreading civic and political awareness among the people.
The restoration of Democracy in 1990 again came as a boon to the Nepali press. During the entire decade of the nineties, the press witnessed a tremendous rise. New and more competitive broadsheet daily newspapers came to the scene at the private sector and broadcast and online media also started making their presence conspicuous. Media was successful to establish a domain in the people’s hearts as an essential and inevitable component of progressive modern society.
However, the days turned dark again. After the gruesome massacre at the Narayanhiti Royal Palace in June 2001, the country not only got a new monarch but the political atmosphere also took a gradual turn, with the elected government dissolving Parliament and the King overthrowing the democratically elected government in October, 2002.
The absence of parliament and unstable political situation culminated in the King’s direct intervention on February 1, 2005, as King Gyanendra dismissed a multi-party government and assumed all state powers on himself. This was coupled with a declaration of a nationwide State of Emergency, massive censorship drive and curbs on freedom of press as well as arrests, threats and prosecution to journalists and other media professionals.
Equally suppressive were the Maoist insurgents who took away the lives of several journalists in course of their violent “People’s War.” The Maoist highhandedness against journalists ranged from seemingly harmless and ordinary acts such as barring reporters from collecting news to threats and intimidation as well as abductions and killings.
Apparently, the situation has now changed and a peace process has almost begun. At present Nepali press faces the challenge of playing a role conducive to inspire the government as well as the rebel groups to work out an effective and durable peace deal so that use of weapons and violence could be stopped for good.
Our website would always try to provide up-to-date information on the situation of Nepali Press vis-à-vis the state of press freedom and freedom of expression in Nepal. At the same time, we would highlight issues of human rights and democracies, which are the backbone of a modern, civilized society.
In our advocacy of press freedom, we cover not only print, broadcast and online varieties of media but also writers, lawyers, human rights activists as well as other advocates of free expression.
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