Journalists in the mid- and far-west are being targeted by both the Maoists and security forces. They constantly face death threats if they don't publish positive coverage of military and rebel operations. "Everyday, we live in fear of getting killed not only at the hands of Maoists but the army as well," says a Dang-based journalist from Space Time. He added that most journalists don't have telephone lines to send their reports to Kathmandu. "Those covering the conflict are under enormous stress on the job, and almost everyone is forced to curry favour with security officers," says a Channel Nepal correspondent in Banke.
It's a situation that encourages impunity because Nepal lacks information laws to protect journalists. Reporters complain their publishers do not provide enough resources or care about their security. "All they are concerned about is breaking stories and not how we manage to get it," says another daily paper reporter in Banke.
Both the Maoists and the state should realise journalists are just doing their job. When journalists write a story with a dateline from a conflict-ridden area, the army accuses them of keeping ties with the rebels. And when the army organises a media junket, the Maoists threaten journalists for being pro-government.
Press passes were issued to media personnel covering the conflict with the assurance that they would be protected. No more. Several journalists have been beaten up and their passes seized by the Maoists. "Nowadays we just use our citizenship cards," says a reporter from Nepal Samacharpatra in Dadeldhura.