Scribe’s murder forces Nepal PM to cancel junketJanuary 15th, 2009 - 5:07 pm ICT by IANS
Kathmandu, Jan 15 (IANS) Under growing fire from journalists’ organisations in Nepal and the international community for the brutal murder of a woman reporter in the turbulent southern plains, Maoist Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda Thursday called off his controversial foreign junket scheduled this week.A group of journalists who met Prachanda Thursday to submit a memorandum seeking justice for 24-year-old Uma Singh who was hacked to death in Janakpur town Sunday, was told the PM had cancelled his European tour in order to stay at home and address the crisis.
Prachanda told the visiting team from the Federation of Nepalese Journalists that he was shocked by Singh’s murder. He said that last month when a media house was attacked by Maoist trade unionists, he had pledged that the attackers would be punished, no matter who they were.
Prachanda told the team that he himself would take initiative once more to ensure that Singh’s killers were caught.
On Saturday, Prachanda was scheduled to lead a 13-member delegation to Norway and Finland, purportedly to see how the two European countries were harnessing wind energy. The knowhow was to have been applied in Nepal to alleviate the reigning dire power crisis.
The proposed junket as well as Prachanda’s penchant for attending fairs while Nepal has been reeling has been under fire. Besides being his sixth proposed foreign visit in five months, Prachanda was criticised for including wife Sita Poudel in the trip to Norway and Finland while the power minister as well as ambassador concerned were dropped.
The stung Nepali ambassador reportedly sent a stiff note to the PM, pointing out that he was slighting his envoys by excluding them from official trips.
Media reports are suggesting that Singh’s murder was linked to the abduction and disappearance of her father and brother three years ago and the confiscation of their land by the Maoists. They raise the possibility of the Maoists having a hand in the incident. If this is proved, it will trigger widespread outrage.
The UN, European Union and US have already condemned the killing and urged the government to punish the slayers.
The Prachanda government is also facing public anger for the power crisis which led the state to declare a 16-hour blackout daily since last Sunday.
Though the Maoist government blames the previous governments for the mess, there are growing protests.
On Thursday, protesters shut down the heart of the capital, throwing traffic off gear.
The disruption caused the first meeting of the new central committee of the Maoists party to be put off Thursday. The meeting had been called to discuss new strategy after the Maoists this week merged with a fringe communist party.
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