Kathmandu: Twenty-two local journalists were forced to leave a western Nepal town following death threats issued by cadres of the ruling Unified Communist Party of Nepal (U-CPNM) drawing condemnation from Reporters without Borders (RSF), an NGO.
Following the threats two days ago, 22 local reporters were forced to leave the district, the very next day, according to sources close to the Federation of Nepalese Journalists.
The threats followed a clash between Maoist cadres and opposition party workers during Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai`s visit to Dailekh town on January 23.
"The threats and attacks on media workers are particularly serious since they occurred in response to calls for justice for Dekendra Raj Thapa, a local journalist who was kidnapped and murdered by cadres of the ruling Maoist party," said Reporters Without Borders issuing a statement.
"We urge the authorities to put an end to such threats and guarantee journalists the basic right to work in safety," the statement said.
Dekendra Raj Thapa was allegedly murdered by Maoist cadres in 2004 and five Maoist workers had been detained last month for the crime.
Ruling party cadres allegedly threatened journalists who were protesting during Bhattarai`s visit to Dailekh.
The ruling party members publicly warned several reporters they could face the same fate as their murdered colleague Thapa.
Other UCPN activists forced their way into the editorial offices of a local daily and vandalised the premises, said RSF statement.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Bhattarai had defended the government`s decision to call off the investigation into Thapa`s murder, saying not all civil war-era cases could be investigated.