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Widespread criticism of Home Minister on social media over the arrest of Kailash Sirohiya

Following the arrest of Sirohiya, political leaders, professionals and media fraternity have accused Home Minister Rabi Lamichhane of resorting to vendetta politics aimed at silencing the powerful media house. Here are some reactions.

Kailash Sirohiya adresses the press after being arrested from Kantipur Publications premises

Kathmandu: Media fraternity, political community and professionals have opposed the arrest of Kantipur Publication chair Kailash Sirohiya. 

Taking to social media sites, a number of political leaders and professionals have called Sirohiya’s arrest an act of vendetta by Home Minister Lamichhane against the publication for exposing his  alleged involvement in cooperative scams.

Kantipur publications have been publishing reports about cooperative fraud scams in recent times.

Taking to social media X, Dr Shekhar Koirala, the top leader of Nepali Congress wrote:  ‘He [Home Minister] holds dual passports and stands against investigation on cooperatives fraud allegations.  The arrest of Kailash Sirohiya, the chair of Kantipur Media Group, who for the last three decades has stood as guardrail of democracy and information, is not acceptable. I am confident that the police will find out what is true and what is not.’

Dr Baburam Bhattarai wrote: ‘There is a saying in English: You should not only be good, you should appear to be good.’ For whatever reason the government arrested Kantipur Publication chair Kailash Sirohiya; it does not look good.’

Ironically, Bhattarai wrote, when Kanipur published an article of mine about  the palace massacre in June 2001, the government of the then King Gyanendra arrested Sirohiya and other Kantipur journalists. Then supreme commander Prachanda and us had fiercely opposed it together.  I am ashamed to see that Prachanda is now  following Gyanendra’s path.

Kathmandu Valley Crime Division arrests Kailash Sirohiya, chair of Kantipur Publications.

Dr CK Raut, President of Janamat Party commented: “Who does not know that issuing an arrest warrant against Kailash Sirohiya is an act of vendetta? This is totally unacceptable in a democracy.’ 

Senior journalist Ajaya Bhadra Khanal wrote: ‘I am no expert, but according to Tom Bingham’s rule of law principles, “statutory powers should be exercised in good faith – that is, honestly.” It should not have been activated by bad faith or, in a word, vindictiveness. Vindictive use of authority is an abuse of power.’

Senior journalist Sanjeev Satgainya commented: ‘It is condemnable that politics of vendetta has gained space, it is extremely dangerous to use legitimate force for vendetta. This tendency must be checked on time.’

Manoj Dahal wrote: ‘By waging vendetta against Kantipur chair Kailash Sirohiya, Rabi Lamichhane has made it clear that he is not the long running horse in the political race.’

Meanwhile, the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ), the umbrella organization of Nepali journalists, has dubbed the move as a revenge by Home Minister Rabi Lamichhane. 

In a statement, the FNJ said that its attention has been drawn towards the arrest of KMG Chair Kailash Shirohiya. “The federation has taken the issue seriously after the arrest of Sirohia from the office premises of Kantipur Dainik, who promised to help in the judicial investigation regarding the allegations against him.”

“The Federation believes that the statements made by Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Lamichhane, which has been continuously following up the news regarding the various allegations against Rabi Lamichhane, its editorial leadership and the entire communication sector, have confirmed that the arrest of President Sirohia is vindictive,” read the statement.

“Although the organization has always stood by the investigation conducted according to the law, the Federation of Journalists does not accept the abuse of state power to restrict the freedom of press and expression. The Federation has further shown its support to the editorial leadership of Kantipur to move forward without being influenced by this incident and without being distracted from publishing truthful news,” added the statement.