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News of 500 million Nepali currency and the price of professional journalism

By       Message Mohan Nepali     Permalink
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Most of the people in Kathmandu don't believe the tape scandal about Nepal's Maoists' asking Chinese leaders for 500 million Nepali rupees was real. "It sounds an Indian game," remarks Ram Kaji Chitrakar, a local shopkeeper at Bagbazaar. A local cycle repairer Nirman Khadgi, also of Baghbazaar locality itself, says that he does not have much idea of the tape scandal, but he thinks finding out the truth about it would be wise. "People like us will remain confused due to lack of truth. Whom to believe and whom not to believe these days," questions Khadgi.

An information technology student studying in Bangalore, now in Kathmandu Babin Kumar Shakya is amazed at the fact that neither the Nepal government nor the accused side has tried to verify the tape by using scientific methods. I watched the news on Nepal 1 and Maoist leader Krishna Bahadur Mahara's photo was shown. No news source was referred to in the news. "It's not difficult to verify the case as to truth or fabrication if the concerned sides wish to do so," he adds.

A prominent investigative reporter, who requested his anonymity, says that it is possible to prove that the tape is a fabricated one. "Journalistic ethics has been breached in this tape scandal," he says. "Not a single source, be it personal or official, gives life to the news story. That's why it's a show of yellow journalism," he adds. "Indian interest is clearly reflected in this unverified tape. This is very sensitive while we believe that both India and China are our important neighbors," he expresses his concern.

Among supporters of the Nepali Congress (NC), the Unified Marxist-Leninist (UML) and the Unified Communist Party of Nepal Maoist (UCPN), the opinions regarding the Mahara-Chinese tape scandal were divided and contradictory. Gunadev Mahato of Dhanusa, a Nepali Congress supporter thinks the tape broadcast over Nepali media is true. "We can't believe Maoists. They can reach any extent for the sake of power," he opines. Nakul Raj Simkhada and UML supporter, who owns a cold store at Dhunga Adda in Kathmandu, does not directly agree with Mahato. However, he says, "This case may be true. But it requires verification first."

Similarly, Krishna Ram Maharjan from Patan, a Maoist supporter, believes it's an Indian conspiracy. Trying to justify his saying, Maharjan questions, "Is there any source of news from which Nepal 1 got it? Who distributed the tape to well-selected channels and newspapers only?" Enraged at the Indian interference with Nepal's internal affairs, Maharjan accuses RAW second man at the Kathmandu-based Indian Embassy Subrat Das of having prepared this artificial tape. "If Subrat Das can threaten our MP, why can't he do something else for his cause?" he adds his question.

Based on ideological bent, people may differ on the tape scandal. However, it is not impossible to scientifically test the tape should the concerned sides be serious about it. Nepal Telecom's international exchange gateway computer surveillance section and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) have not been able to provide any details regarding the tape scandal.

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Nepali media have made coverage of what came first from an Indian channel based in New Delhi without source verification. With the help of the mass media, the Nepalis can remain more alert-minded. However, Nepali journalists could benefit the people and the country better by adhering to the vital principles of journalism: truth obligation, source verification, objectivity, loyalty to people, use of conscience and more.

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