Radio Sagarmatha goes off air

IN Media Freedom | 28/11/2005
Things get worse for Nepal radio stations as BBC Nepali Service carries an exclusive interview with Maoist chairman Prachanda.

Radio Sagarmatha FM--the first community radio station in South Asia--went off air after police raided the station, seized its transmission equipment and took into custody five journalists and technicians working in the radio Sunday evening.

Police raided the radio station as it was airing relay transmission of BBC Nepali Service live from London at around 9:00 pm. Officials with the F. M. station told Nepalnews that armed security personnel also left behind two letters. One of the letters asked the F. M. to shut down its entire transmission until further notice. The other letter said the authorities were taking some radio equipment for investigation.

According to F. M. sources, Police gheraoed the station, asked the reporters and radio staff not to use phone, seized transmission equipment and took five journalists and technical staff into their custody.Those arrested include radio journalists Ms. Durga Karki, Dipak Babur Aryal, Dipak Raj Pandey, Punya Bhandari and technician Rajendra Bhandari. Reports said police later released Ms. Karki.Other journalists and technician are being kept at District Police Office,
Jawalakhel, Lalitpur.

On Sunday, BBC Nepali Service carried an exclusive interview with Maoist chairman Prachanda alias Pushpa Kamal Dahal-the first radio interview given by him in the last ten years-- in its edition today. He spoke about the recent understanding between the seven party alliance and his party.The radio station had, however, aired music instead of Prachanda`s interview.

Reports said some seven F. M. stations outside the capital, Kathmandu, were forced to drop their transmission of BBC Nepali today by the local authorities.

The authorities also suspended the transmission of BBC World Service over 103 FM. owned by the state-run Radio Nepal from this evening. Reasons were not immediately known. The state-run Radio Nepal has been blocking the news broadcast of BBC over 103 F. M. since the royal takeover in February this year.

At around mid-night on October 21, 2005, police had raided the station of Kantipur FM--a leading private radio station in the country-and seized its equipment used to uplink its transmission. The authorities are yet to return those equipment.,

27 November 2005

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