Funds raised for slain Nepalese journalists’ children

Nepal News Australia

Nepal News Australia, a community magazine of Nepalese diaspora, organised a fund-raising programme yesterday for children of some three dozen journalists who lost their lives as they practiced the profession of journalism in Nepal.

According to Madhav Gairhe who is the chief editor of the magazine, thirty-five journalists have lost their lives in Nepal since 2001 while four are still missing. Media was one of the worst-affected industries in the Himalayan nation since Maoist rebels launched armed struggle in 1996. As they continued to fight the then Royal Nepal Army, media persons became the prime targets of the two ruthless warring sides.

Yesterday’s programme was more an expression of solidarity with the slain journalists’ families than an attempt to raise funds that would change the lives of the affected children overnight, Mr Gairhe told southasia.com.au. He further added that whatever funds were raised during the gala dinner would be used to purchase educational materials and sent to Nepal.

GP Koirala
The actual plane hijacked by late GP Koirala

President of Nepal Press Union Badri Sigdel and its past president Samir Jung Shah were in the country to participate in the event. Speaking on the occasion, the duo expressed their appreciation of the effort and solidarity shown by the expatriate Nepalese journalists based in Australia.

Hijacking for Democracy, a historical documentary produced by television journalist Jagat Nepal was screened during the programme which was held in Sydney’s west. The documentary tells the tantalising story of Nepal’s first plane hijacking in 1973. It was carried out to rob Nepal Rastra Bank’s cash being flown from Biratnagar to Kathmandu. Nepali Congress activists who were involved in the crudely-organised mid-air robbery wanted to gather funds for an armed revolution to wage war against the autocratic royal regime and restore multi-party democracy.

The plane was forced to divert to India where it landed at Forbesgunj and freedom fighters made off with three million Indian rupees, a fortune those days.

The hijacking was plotted by Girija Prasad Koirala who would later be the Prime Minister, more than once. He was also instrumental in bringing Maoist rebels into the national mainstream and steer the 2006 popular movement to a constructive end. Thus, although he was mired in scandals after scandals during his earlier prime ministership, the pivotal role he played towards the end of his life made him a popular figure not only among his party members but also among die-hard communists. Maoist chairperson Prachanda himself is said to have learned a lesson or two from the late Nepali Congress president.

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