Friday, November 27, 2015

The Annapurna Post's Bias Against Dr Tuladhar

Dr Rabin Man Shakya
Former Associate Editor, The Rising Nepal

In Nepal, there is no dearth of newspapers which try to damage the image and reputation of some people by publishing concocted, fabricated and misleading materials about them. The practice of irresponsible journalism and mud-slinging is not uncommon in Nepal especially in the weekly newspaper journalism and online news portals. But it is unbelievable when a responsible broadsheet daily newspaper also does that.

On Nov 20, 2015, the daily Nepali newspaper "The Annapurna Post" published a news story headlined: "What does Nepal want? : Rae" splashed across the front page, created sensation in the Nepalese news media, stirring a debate on the social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, where many criticized the Annapurna Post, for what they said,  publishing false allegation against Dr Padma Ratna Tuladhar and Tula Narayan Shah and unnecessarily sensationalizing the episode.

The news story was related to an interaction program hosted by the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu at Shangri-La Hotel. Political, social and medical elites of Nepal were invited to the program. The question headline of the news story was attributed to Indian ambassador to Nepal Mr Ranjit Rae.

The news story went on to falsely claim that Dr Padma Ratna Tuladhar had demanded a total blockade from India. In fact, an attempt on character assassination of  Dr Tuladhar and Mr Shah was carried out by the Annapurna Post.

Meanwhile, in separate statements, both Dr Tuladhar and Mr Shah had vehemently denied about their quotes in the story. The statement by Mr Shah was published in the Annapurna Post,  while one by Dr Tuladhar was not. It has raised questions about the equal treatment of the affected people by the Annapurna Post.  Dr Tuladhar had clarified in his statement that he did not make any comment or views at that program, much less about the blockade.

The correction of the Annapurna Post did not offer an unequivocal apology to Dr Tuladhar for the character assassination. The newspaper just posted a correction by saying that the allegation was mistakenly published in lieu of someone's accusation and obviously the source or the identity of "someone" was missing in the correction.

While hardly unusual in its journalistic activities, the Post's allegation against Dr Tuladhar, it is believed, is motivated by the vested interest of the South Block, since the newspaper is widely believed to be pro-southern neighbor. That probably is precisely the reason why the Post is so paranoid about Dr Tuladhar.

There is no doubt that the Annapurna Post has, kind of, lost the trust and credibility of the people of the Kathmandu valley with this kind of news, and it should refrain from publishing biased and untrue news stories to regain its credentials as an independent national daily.

By the way, it was in 1994 and I was still with The Rising Nepal. It was at that time that I had the honor of interviewing Dr Padma Ratna Tuladhar on behalf of The Rising Nepal. My interview or encounter with him was focused on literature and journalism, not on politics and human rights. In other words, I interviewed Dr Tuladhar as a member of the luminary club of Nepal. For taking the interview, I still remember I went to Dr Tuladhar's house which was located at Lazimpat in Kathmandu.

Dr Tuladhar was associated with the "Nepal Bhasa Patrika" (edited by late Phatte Bahadur Singh) for several years until the only daily newspaper in Nepal Bhasa ceased its publication in 1983. Dr Tuladhar had written a number of thought-provoking articles in the Nepal Bhasa Patrika under the pseudonym Paratu.

Dr Tuladhar is a politician, ethnic leader, journalist and human rights veteran. Apart from that, he is a very sober, responsible and erudite gentleman who, I believe, will never say stupid things as was falsely reported by the Annapurna Post.

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