-  Monday 10 August 2020

Police in Nepal detain 2 former communist rebels in journalist's abduction

 -  International Herald Tribune

Oct 18 2007 - Police have arrested two men on suspicion of abducting a journalist who went missing two weeks ago after writing about alleged timber smuggling and other illegal activities by former communist rebels, officials said Thursday.

Two members of the former rebel group, which entered a peace process with the government last year, were arrested Tuesday in the border city of Birgunj, about 160 kilometers (100 miles) south of the capital Katmandu, a police official said.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about the case to reporters, said hundreds of policemen were still searching for journalist Birendra Shah following his disappearance Oct. 5 from Unjanpipariya village near Birgunj while on a reporting trip.

Shah, a critic of the former rebels, had written about the group's alleged profiteering via timber smuggling and also their alleged beatings and other abuse of their opponents.

The abduction has been widely condemned by human rights groups, media rights activists, political parties and the government.

A group of Parliament members left the capital, Katmandu, on Thursday to head to the area to monitor the search.

"The police have not been able to find any trace of this missing journalist. So a team of lawmakers are going to the area on a fact-finding mission," lawmaker Urmila Aryal said.

Aryal said her team would coordinate with the local political activists, government authorities and rights groups to try to find information on the missing journalist.

The former rebels, widely known as the Maoists, have said they too are investigating the case and that if they find any of their members to be involved in the abduction, the government is free to punish them.

The Maoists last year gave up their decade-long armed revolt, which had resulted in the deaths of at least 13,000 people. There have been allegations of continued violence.

During the insurgency, Maoists were known to frequently threaten, beat and even kill journalists who wrote critical reports about them.

Source : International Herald Tribune 
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