Journalist held in Bhutan [2007-01-24]
Jaigaon, January 24, 2007 - The Royal Bhutan Army soldiers at the Tashilakha outpost has arrested Shatiram Acharya, a resident of Beldangi-II camp, Sector ‘D’ on January 16 accusing him of being a Maoists militant.
It is learnt that Acharya is now handed over to the police station in Gedu, Chukha.
Acharya is learnt to have worked as a reporter at different newspapers run in the Bhutanese refugee camps. A close friend of Acharya informed BNS that Shantiram was also working in ‘Purba Sandesh’, daily (A newspaper run in Nepal by local journalists).
Meanwhile, Wednesday’s online version of government’s mouthpiece, Kuensel claimed that during the investigation Acharya has revealed that in January 2006 he and six others were sent for training with the Nepal Maoist militants by the president of the Bhutan Communist Party (MLM), Chabilal Kharel.
However, ‘Aviskar’, who claimed himself an active party cadre of Communists Party of Bhutan (MLM), informed BNS in telephone that their party doesn’t have presidentship post. He claimed they don’t have any physical linkage with Maoists in Nepal. “We would have received information at the first hour had Shantiram Acharaya been a Maoists militant” he said, adding- “After the completion of investigation we will make the matter public whether Acharya is affiliated to our party”.
The online version stated Acharya as confessing that the December 2, 2006, bomb blast in Phuentsholing town, which injured four people, was carried out by members of the Communist Party of Bhutan.
In response ‘Aviskar’ denied showing their party’s hand on the bombing. “May be Bhutan itself is creating conspiracy. It is not sure whether Acharya is our Party Cadre” he added.
On a query of BNS, ‘Aviskar’ denied revealing his position in the party.
Meanwhile, Third World Media Network (TWMN) - Bhutan Chapter has shown deep concern. In a press statement issued on Wednesday, the TWMN- Bhutan Chapter has sought attention of International human rights bodies and International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) to investigate the facts following Acharya's arrest.
"If Acharya is proven to a journalist, he should get adequate support and international pressure over Druk regime for his early release" the statement reads. Bhutan News Service