Spate of government intimidation on media and working journalists has intensified further in Nepal lately. No sooner had it been a week the government earned huge disrepute with the arrest of a former secretary of the government over his view on social media, the State-owned Radio Nepal removed an interview it had with the former prime minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai in a talk program on Monday (April 27) morning.

To sheer censorship on State media, Radio Nepal removed the audio of an interview with former prime minister Dr Bhattarai from its online archive over Dr Bhattarai’s alleged disrespect to current Prime Minister K P Oli in the interview.

Dr Bhattarai had criticized undue influence of Prime Minister Oli on his party and mishandling of state affairs in the live interview with senior editor at Radio Nepal, Nawaraj Lamsal.

To this,  Executive Director of the Radio Nepal, Suresh Kumar Karki sought public apology for airing the ‘opinion and language’ of former Prime Minister Dr Bhattarai. Issuing the statement, he directed the Radio Nepal staffs to be cautious while choosing guest in the program to be broadcast from the Radio Nepal.

It is worth noting here that the former line minister of this very government had closed a talk program on Nepal Television and warned of action to the editors of country’s news agency.

It is deplorable that, time and again, this government has misused the State-owned media with blatant interference and killing news and views which criticize its activities.

Healthy criticism is the essence of freedom of expression which is guaranteed by Nepal’s constitution. But it is shameful that the State media are being captured by the government, thereby turning these into mere mouthpiece of ‘ruling political parties.’

“At a time when the voice has been raised over decades to change the State-owned Radio Nepal into a public service broadcasting, misuse of these media for the admiration of the ruling party is a serious set back on right to free expression. This Radio Nepal case reflects growing interference of government and has disrespected the editorial freedom, which is not only against the constitution but also detrimental to democratic values,” observes Freedom Forum Executive Chief Taranath Dahal.

Government’s growing intolerance to criticism is the headway to authoritarian move, FF concludes and equally urges Radio Nepal not to kill news and views but respect editorial freedom to Radio Nepal, the voice of Nepalis.

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