Sunday, February 8, 2009

Thanx goes to all of you!

My pre-assumption was completely incorrect when I presented a sheet of paper; I like to call it an appeal, which was aimed at drawing the attention of the delegation of International Media Mission towards the case of Shanti Ram Acharya.

When I read a news story in The Kathmandu Post, a Nepalese daily newspaper, highlighting the Mission's visit to Nepal to access the media situation in the country, I made-up my mind to rush to catch them and draw their attention towards Bhutanese authority's decision to sentence our correspondent Acharya for 7.5-year without any reason.

I called Binod Dhungel, one of the senior Nepalese journalists whom I know since a couple of years, over telephone to seek his suggestions and possible support to help me to catch the delegation.

My plan turned quite 'hopeful' when Dhungel responded very positively; he gave some cell numbers of other Nepalese journalists who were with the Mission.

I immediately rushed to the central office of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ), lying couple-of-minute-walk from the entry gate of Tribhuwan International Airport.

Before I met with the President of FNJ Dharmendra Jha, one of the CC members of IFJ-- I could not remember his name during the writing of this piece, almost tried to avoid me to meet with the delegation. "I think it would have no any meaning to handover them with a sheet of paper appealing for your reporter's release", he said, however, immediately adding he would talk to Posan KC, general secretary of the FNJ once.

By then it was learnt that the delegation of the Mission was heading towards the central office of FNJ after meeting with Jhala Nath Khanal, general secretary of Communist Party of Nepal (United-Marxist-Leninists) in Balkhu.

I decided not to leave from the premises of FNJ central office despite one of it's CC member's unwillingness to help me.

It was almost 1.30 hours I was waiting to catch the delegation. "When there is a will there is a way." This quotation was proven, henceforth, accurate when the delegation of the Mission arrived at 5.30 pm and finally I was helped by Purna Basnet and Dharmendra Jha for the arrangement of few minutes to present the plight of our correspondent Acharya.

Let me not enter into the details of the appeal sheet (paper), herein, as it is kept at the end of this write-up.

The responses I received from the delegates were extremely 'HOPEFUL' and it was clearly learnt the Mission was taking Acharya's case quite seriously. Thanks to International rights and media groups for taking our correspondent's case seriously. Click here to read a brief news story that appeared online on the news portal of Bhutan News Service.

Shanti Ram Acharya, 20/M
Address (temporary): Bhutanese refugee camp, Beldangi II, Sector D/1, Hut No.85, Jhapa, Nepal
Address in Bhutan (Permanent): Goshi Block, Dagana district
Arrested date: January 16, 2007
Arrested by: Bhutanese security forces
Arrested at: Tashilakha outpost in Gedu district
Made public on: January 21, 2006 via state-owned Kuensel
Preliminary hearing on court: March 16, 2007
Jail term: 7.5 years
Reason to go to Bhutan: To meet his relatives as per his family members
Charge on him: Involvement in subversive activities
Health status while he was arrested: He had mentally gone ill; used to talk more
Did he hire independent lawyer? Bhutan does not have any independent attorneys to be hired by individual
How journalist? He worked with The Bhutan Reporter monthly and subsequently at Bhutan Jagaran fortnightly in 2005. He is also the founding editor of Baal Aawaj (Voice of Children).
Date his relatives visited him inside jail: Devi Charan, his brother, and sister-in-law (wife of Devi Charan) visited him on October 22, 2008 inside Chemgang central jail in Thimphu, the capital city where he has been kept from the next day of arrest. They visited Shanti Ram with the help of ICRC- India Representative.
Health status inside jail: mentally and physically tortured as per his brother Devi Charan. Devi Charan quotes Shanti Ram as saying that he was forced by the security forces to admit that he was a Maoist militant of Communist Party of Bhutan (CPB-MLM). Where we get updated stories on Acharya? , and

Association of Press Freedom Activists (APFA) – Bhutan
Third World Media Network – Bhutan Chapter
Kathmandu, Nepal

I also submitted some xerox copies of his news clips with his name in byline but i could not get it loaded here right at the moment.

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