Nepali Times
From The Nepali Press
Hard to digest

A woman waiting on the veranda of her house is shot down by army personnel. As her husband sees her fall, he shouts out: "Shoot me too!" He is not shot and he watches his wife breathe her last.

It is hard to imagine such things happening unless one is an eyewitness. As if this were not bad enough, the government media committed another atrocity against this poor man by announcing the following day that a "terrorist" had been killed in an encounter. Not only did the man lose his wife, she was also branded a terrorist a day after she died.

After reading the daily government reports, even people who do not agree with the policies of the Maoists feel betrayed. The government has branded the Maoists "terrorists". Government forces have been arresting many innocent people on the slightest suspicions. Until and unless a crime has been proven, no one can be arrested. The government is doing exactly the opposite-it is arresting and harassing innocent people, even many who do not at all support the Maoists. It arrests a lot of people and then issues press releases stating that those arrested are suspected of being Maoist sympathisers.

Dhruba Hari Adhikary, a teacher at the Nepal Press Institute, is fed up with such behaviour on the part of the government, and says that the situation has now become such that they (journalists) no longer completely trust government press releases. The Ministry of Information and Communication has asked all media organisations to publish news that helps uplift the morale of the armed forces and motivates them, and does the opposite to the morale and level of motivation of the Maoist forces. The government on a regular basis issues statements in line with this agenda. The Defence Ministry forgets that an emergency has been imposed in this country precisely due to such twisting of facts.

After the emergency was put in place, public meetings have stopped completely. Because of the emergency, the ruling Nepali Congress has indefinitely postponed all its programs and public meetings. The opposition parties, namely the UML and the ML, who also support the emergency, have called off all their programs. This is why no public meeting has taken place in this period.

The government is doing everything it can to demoralise the Maoists. In this respect it sometimes puts out conflicting information. A couple of days ago, the Defence Ministry put out a release which claimed that more than 500 villagers in a village in Rolpa took out a procession against the atrocities committed by the terrorists. But, because the release did not name the Village Development Committee this meeting is supposed to have taken place in, people are having a hard time believing the report.

People may recall that some time ago the Defence Ministry put out a release stating that the armed forces had captured a large number of Maoist activists and seized their weapons. Nepal Television carried this news. On one of the captured guns was stuck a picture supposed to be of Prachanda. Even Himal Khabarpatrika carried this information and a picture of the gun. Nepal Television is doing all it can to show that the armed forces are winning victories, and all the country's business institutions are wholeheartedly in support of the emergency. In the same vein, the government recently issued a release stating that the people of Surkhet were fed up with the Maoists and had taken out a procession, with thousands of people participating and protesting against the Maoists. We were told that the people were protesting the fact that the Maoists had kidnapped people from the village, and demanding the release of all the villagers who had been abducted. But we never got to see this protest on television, and there was no follow up to this story.As a result, many people came to the conclusion after some time that this was done to hit at the morale of the Maoists.

A few days later, the Defence Ministry put out the news that in the course of its "search and destroy" operation, the army had destroyed six caves in Dohlakha that were used by the terrorists.(There was no follow up).

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)