Violating the Constitution
In Drishti (April 5), former Member of Parliament Radheshyam Adhikary wrote that the Council of Ministers' Royal Commission for Corruption Control (RCCC) and imposition of emergency were unconstitutional and added, "That provision has been violated whereas the constitutional view that no one can challenge the King's moves has been kept intact." Insisting on need to follow the existing Constitution, Adhikary said that unless the Constitution is declared null and void, 'authoritarian system' that existed prior to 1990 could not be re-imposed. In the absence of the parliament, emergency would come to an end, where it cannot be extended without ratification by the parliament within three months. He also said that the Royal Commission would end as soon as the state of emergency is over. Finally he concluded, "Of course, things can be different if the body (Royal Commission) is used as a political instrument."
Crushing Fourth Estate
The Rajdhani, a daily (April 5), in its editorial expressed deep anguish about the condition of the domestic media and said, "In fact, they have always believed international agencies more than the domestic media." Nepal's rulers have always felt insecure about the media's power or only those who have never understood the importance of a free media have come to power. Indicating the ruler's inefficiency in using an independent and credible media for their own purposes, it said insecurity of these rulers did not increase the prestige of those in power but it damaged national reputation and killed creativity. An absence of understanding the importance of the Fourth Estate in safeguarding democracy, the editorial said, resulted in curbs on the media's freedom. While concluding it said, "the present government's dissatisfaction and use of power over the media's reporting made Nepali people to depend on foreign reporting about their own country."
In the Kantipur Daily (April 9), Ghamaraj Luitel (from Radio Sagarmatha) wrote that around 41 FM radios have been bottled up within the confinements of entertainment when the country was in the midst of crisis and conflict. Quoting the government's measures against these FM radio stations Luitel said, "The government is reportedly planning to amend the National Broadcast Act and introduce any law permanently clipping the wings of free radio journalism." Comparing the development in radio broadcasting in Nepal with other European and African countries, he exclaimed, "Most of these countries envied Nepal's successes with community radio and emulated us." Luitel urged the government to realize that in a country where the literacy rate is low, FM radio stations were informing and educating nearly 70 percent of the population and added, "Radio journalism cannot fulfill its responsibility being restricted to music."
Himal Khabarpatrika (14-30 April) in its report narrated a Nepal Police personnel's humanitarian assistance to an injured Maoist in Sankhuwasabha district. The Maoist cadre Prem Kumar Pariyar alias Comrade Tufan had lobbed a socket bomb at a police patrol at Barabise and he was shot and wounded while trying to run away. He was lifted to the hospital and Policeman Dambar Bahadur Chhetri found he had the same blood group as Tufan and decided on the spot to donate his blood to save Tufan's life. Tufan told the reporter, "they could have killed me but instead, he gave me his own blood to save my lifeÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ I will never make this mistake again."
Targeting the Schools
Nepal Samacharpatra (April 19) in its editorial said that far from being 'zones of peace', schools in Nepal had been turned into war zones for forced recruitment of children, digging bunkers and trenches in school grounds or turned into barracks. The condition of the educational system suffered another set back after the Maoists students union, All Nepal National Independent Students Union (ANNISU-R), declared a shut down by the Maoists. Accepting the complaints about high fees in private schools, the editorial said, "that is no reason to close them all down." About the increasing exodus of Nepali children into India, the editorial opined, "this will affect their sense of belonging and narrow their sense of nationalism." It urged the Maoists to re-evaluate their actions and desist from such irrational and self-destructive acts and leave the school system alone.
Himal Khabarpatrika (April 14-29) in its report of the closure of schools across the country said, "with this closure the Maoists and their fraternal student organisation have once again shown themselves to be an irrational anti-people force." It opined that like in the past an overwhelming public opposition would force the Maoists to back down. Reporting the large scale outpour of students from the schools to Indian boarding schools, it quoted the private schools association member Bijaya Lama's statement, "There is a real danger that our schools will be empty at the rate our students are going to India." Finally, the report stated that the Maoist threat had affected 2,300,000 people directly and the plight of private schools, it suggested, "if the Maoists want to present themselves as a responsible force in front of the people they have to call off the closure."
In the Nepali Times (29 April - 5 May), Kunda Dixit described, King Gyanendra's "intense diplomatic" visits to the Afro-Asian Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia, and Boao Asian Forum in China as "triumphant" and said, "his numerous photo opportunities with world leaders went some way in providing him certain international legitimacy." [sic] Regarding the King's meeting with the Indian Prime Minister and the subsequent opposition from his key ally CPI (M), Dixit said, "the issue became a political hot potato and less about Nepal than internal tensions within India's left-centre coalition." The episode also exposed rifts between the Indian military establishment and the Ministry of External Affairs with the generals far more keen to resume hardware supplies to the RNA to help fight the Maoists. Here, Dixit opined that King became successful in exposing the rift and "blew a sizeable hole on the US-UK-India alliance on Nepal."