The government has been baring its fangs as far as the freedom of the press is concerned. This has been glaringly proved by the rather ‘autocratic’ form of decision to demote the acting general manager of the state-owned Nepal Television for having telecast live the mass meeting of the twenty-seven opposition parties from the Open Theatre on June 8. This is one of the anomalies for which the caretaker government is regarded as being very adept in. While it directs the state-owned TV to air UCPN (Maoist) mass gathering from the same venue but when it comes to the opposition parties the rules are bent. In a democratic republican set-up, the coverage of news, views, opinions and events have to be impartial, that is equal treatment to parties and people following every ideology, except the most violent ones. In fact, the government talks of protecting the identity and dignity of the fourth estate, but in reality all that is hypocrisy and nowhere do its actions reflect its commitment for freedom of expression. In the dark panchayat days, the state media were mere government mouthpieces but to embrace that authoritarian mentality at this juncture speaks of the government’s weakness in doing anything for the welfare of the people. The show of this pseudo strength is a mere indication that the caretaker government has lost all its moral authority to stay in power. Immediate relinquishment of power is the only option that it has.
Holding on to power by attempting to stifle the press freedom has seen many regimes biting the dust around the world, and this government cannot be an exception. Of course, the press too has to uphold the principles of fair reporting and presentation, but in the latest incident that saw the cabinet demoting the NTV acting GM, the government has been caught on the wrong foot. What we are witness to is the fact that the cabinet members see that they have the impunity to take even the most illogical and unreasonable decisions, and that will hold sway. But, they have forgotten that their stay in the government is for a short duration of time, and it has to be made certain that they face the consequences of their haughty decisions in these times of the freedom of free expression. To recapitulate, the three-day bandh on May 20, 21 and 22 was replete with the media people being targetted particularly. It can be definitely said that all physical assaults were against the journalists and as many as 88 such cases have been reported. Now, where did the government’s commitment of providing security to them disappear? Even now the perpetrators of violence during those three days have not faced the music as the government had promised? One could conveniently surmise that the government was the patron of those who came down on the media people covering the bandh.
Press freedom is a gauge of the human rights situation in the country. But, this government has taken the whole country as its fiefdom giving two hoots to all that the constitution guarantees and has come up with its own ad hoc rules to run the country. If that had not been the case, the government would not have taken the coverage of the opposition mass meeting by NTV as a breach of “its” own code of conduct.
Many marvelous antique carvings dating back from medieval times in the country are in peril because of neglect. The bodies responsible for the preservation and maintenance of such art works seem to be the least concerned. As a result, they might go the way of dodo unless timely measures were taken for their upkeep. A glaring example of such is the plight of the famous Peacock Window in Dattatraya Temple of Bhaktapur. The wooden window frame also known as Mayurjhyal or Mhayakha is an ornately carved masterpiece and is listed in UNESCO’s world heritage list. That such a piece of wooden carving should meet such a fate is indeed deplorable. The head of the carving was said to have broken off during the big earthquake of 1933. Despite the elapse of decades, the concerned appear not to be taking the necessary measures to preserve the ancient wood carving.
Art works such as this are the heritage of not only this country but of all mankind and should be preserved for posterity.