Just because the army is no longer in the newsroom, there are some who think censorship has ended. There are those who emerged after February First who see their faces on television and think there is press freedom in Nepal. A new tradition of summoning editors to the police stations has started and this shows the state of press control in Nepal. Indian journalist KK Katyal of the SAFMA delegation who was staying in room number 503 at the Yak & Yeti in town pressed all the buttons on his remote but couldn't get any Indian news channel and only found out that they have been blocked when he was asked a question by a Nepal One reporter just before his departure. In room 515 was Nasir Malli from Pakistan, he found to his delight he could tune into PTV, something he never imagined he could do in Nepal.
Thank goodness the SAFMA delegation didn't get to meet Information Minister Tanka Dhakal. He might have lectured the South Asian journalists about how much press freedom there is in the country, since the tv is broadcasting his face, Radio Nepal repeats his speeches. "How much more freedom do you need," he may have said.
The Nepali press has been behaving like a dog with its tail between its legs since February First. The king met senior editors of the dailies and put his viewpoints clearly but these are not being followed. You can tell how much the editors of the dailies are terrorised by reading their editorials. The media means creativity and freedom, without it democracy can't survive.
The SAFMA delegation met Tulsi Giri, Kirtinidhi Bista, and army spokesman Deepak Gurung. After five days here, the members couldn't figure out how Nepal could move forward. Since they didn't go outside the Valley, it may have been difficult for them to imagine what was behind the king's move. In private conversations they were worried that the move would embolden the terrorists and weaken democracy. "Democracy and free press are essentials of governance in the modern world," they said, "without it there is no chance of a civilised society." They felt the palace and the parties must come together sooner or later.