"Mr Jamim Shah
Space Time Dainik
Panipokhari, Lazimpat, Kathmandu
This is to inform you that we have some questions to ask you, so please contact this office at 10 am on 1 January 2001." This was the signed notice sent to our office on 31 December by the Assistant Chief District Officer of Kathmandu, Ek Mani Nepal. It was a holiday, and we received this letter on the same day at about 4 pm in the evening. As soon as I received that letter, I rang up the CDO's office and spoke to the Assistant CDO and informed him that our managing director was not present in the office. Since that day was the last day of Eid, he must be busy meeting his relatives and friends. "If the managing director cannot be reached today, should I come or is it possible that he, the MD, present himself sometime tomorrow or the day after tomorrow?" I asked.
"You should not come, it won't help. He himself must come, tomorrow at 10 am. Please inform him about it anyhow," was the answer I got. Therefore the next day, our MD, our lawyer, Hari Neupane, and I went to the CDO office. Nepal was not in his office at that time. Neither was CDO Tulsi Bhattarai. After some time Nepal came. Around 10.15 am I met him and informed him that we had come and were ready for any discussion. He asked which one of us was Jamim Shah. We introduced ourselves and after some small talk, he indicated that our MD was to move into another room for questioning. I said: "If a statement is to be taken, then our lawyer, who is with us, would also like to be present." He replied that it was normal and ordinary questioning and therefore the presence of the lawyer was
The questioning went from 10.30 am to 1.30 pm. They took a written statement and it concerned the Hrithik Roshan incident, which our newspaper had reported. They asked him about all the issues concerning this incident-where the news came from, how it came about, how it was printed, what was the basis and origin of the news, the source and so on. Meanwhile we got clear indications that the CDO was calling up regularly and giving directions. In the end the CDO himself gave instructions over the telephone and asked that Jamim Shah present himself again at the CDO's office the following Monday.
Then we were handed a legal notice regarding the same.
Why did all this take place and for what reason, is what we ask. All we did was print reports of incidents that had taken place. The news that the Nepali media printed was collected from places where the events took place or were collected from different agencies or organisations. For example, we printed the news on 25 December, one that concerned the Thali Youth Federation. Under the leadership of the chairman of that federation, Yogendra Shrestha, cassettes of Hrithik Roshan were burnt. In another case, the statement of the ANNFSU, Morang District
Committee, was printed. We did not create this, we printed it on the basis of events taking place or on the basis of statements issued.
It is the responsibility and duty of the government to find out where the news originated, to separate facts from fiction and to make public the truth. All we did was report different events as they took place. On 15 December, a local paper from Chitwan reported that effigies of Hrithik were burnt and then it was reported that this ritual took place daily in Chitwan. Is there no government agency in Chitwan? Isn't it the duty and responsibility of the government to find out the truth, and explain to the people protesting what in fact was the truth? Why did the government stay quiet till 25 December? What wrong did the media do by just reporting events that happened?
Children lost their lives when protestors were fired upon by the police. Hrithik himself released statements countering what had been attributed to him and stated that he was hurt by all the violence and destruction that had taken place. All our respectable information minister did was pass a directive that Hrithik's movies should not be screened. On what basis did he ban Hrithik's movies? If anyone is to be faulted for the mess, it can only be the government, the information minister and no one else.
Those who should be held responsible are not shouldering that responsibility, the accused are being set free and all the blame is being directed towards the media. This is the start of a new conspiracy and the first target is our paper, Spacetime Dainik. The letter sent to us and the interrogation is a prime example of this conspiracy. On the one hand, they say it is a simple questioning and then conduct an interrogation in a closed room. They take signed statements and announce it with great fanfare in the official government media. The official news agency, RSS, released a statement stating that Jamim Shah had been arrested and released in the name of the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ). What had happened was that the general secretary of the FNJ, Tara Nath Dahal, issued a personal statement on an event that had taken place. Zee News of India also picked up this statement of the government and sensationalised it.
The President of FNJ, Suresh Acharya, called us up and said that the FNJ had not given any such statement. He stated that none of these events took place and that if the government tries to harm the FNJ or the press in any way, then the FNJ and other press people will protest. So why did Dahal issue the statement in the first place?
We have realised that some people are benefiting from all this in some way and they are being directed by the government to raise and create trouble. Does this then mean that a Nepali cannot live in Nepal? Some people are becoming jealous of Spacetime Dainik, which has become very popular among Nepalis in a short time. They are out to tarnish our reputation and this is what worries us. Everyone should ask one question and that is, what was our fault in the Hrithik incident and where did we go wrong? Why is this conspiracy being hatched against us? Why is the government conspiring against us? It is upto the government and the information minister to provide answers.