My old National Panasonic shortwave radio had been gathering dust for many years. I didn't need it anymore because a small FM set costing Rs 150 was bringing me all the news I needed. In the last 15 years, you didn't need to rely on outside papers, magazines and radio, there was enough credible and relevant information from Nepali sources. Now, because of the curbs on domestic media, international media has received a new lease on life. That is why I cleaned up my old radio and am using it again. Those of us who took their freedom for granted have realised what it feels like to have it taken away. Our freedom had become an integral part of our culture and civilisation. In the past 15 years, our media broadened the scope of press freedom by maximum application. In the week during which email, Internet, mobiles and media were restricted, we were pushed back to medieval times. So today, we have to try to tune our shortwave radios to BBC Nepali, VOA or All India Radio and through the roar of static try to find out what is happening in our own country.
The new regime stopped news and current affairs on FM radio with just one edict but it left 3,000 journalists out of work. All over Nepal, the information gap is being filled by the underground 'Radio People's Republic'. Will someone explain to me whether this replacement of licensed broadcast channels with illegal underground broadcasts is part of the plan?
My pen is non-violent, it is for democracy and for a free press. It needs unrestricted information from Nepali sources, not from foreign radio stations. It needs information from our own vibrant FM stations, not from underground stations that propagate violence. In the 21st century my pen should stand against violence, totalitarianism and lawlessness. And it can only do that if it is free.