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Prakash Singh Thakuri: missing or dead?

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After eight months, the fate of journalist Prakash Singh Thakuri, who was allegedly abducted by the Communist Party of Nepal (CPN-Maoist), is yet to be clarified. The CPN-Maoists have denied their involvement in the abduction, the government is reluctant to investigate the case, and Thakuri’s captors continue to enjoy impunity.
(Katmandu) Nepalese journalist Prakash Singh Thakuri was allegedly abducted by members of the Maoist-lined Young Communist League (YCL) last July. Eight months have passed since Prakash’s enforced disappearance but his condition and whereabouts are still unknown.

According to the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ), who obtained information from Thakuri’s wife, Thakuri was reportedly abducted by four YCL cadres at his apartment in the far-western region of Kanchanpur District on 5 July last year.

On 8 July, a group calling itself the National Republican Army Nepal (NRAN) stated in its press release that they had killed Thakuri. However, police investigation on the matter had revealed no concrete evidence.

While the CPN-Maoist continues to deny their involvement, police had arrested local CPN leader Pom Lal Sharma and a suspect Chhabi Lal Bhatta, believed to be involved in the case. However, the former was released on the same day of the arrest after he admitted that Thakuri’s abduction was ordered by a CPN-Maoist coordinator. The suspect Chabbi revealed that he led the YCL cadres to Thakuri’s apartment.

These admissions seem to support the allegations in FNJ’s fact-finding report which asserted that YCL cadres were involved in Thakuri’s abduction. The report, published on 21 November, also alleged that the police could not pursue the culprits due to the involvement of CPN-Maoists in the abduction. 

Although the government has formed a committee on 15 November to look into the disappearance case, it has yet to submit a report on the matter, while Prakash’s captors are still at large. It is still unclear whether the journalist is missing or dead.

Civil society and political parties have demanded that the CPN-Maoist leadership stop attacking media persons. Several media freedom organisations have also urged the government to intensify its search for Thakuri and bring his captors to justice.

Thakuri, a FNJ central committee member, worked for a royalist newspaper. It is believed that he was attacked as he was supposedly a supporter of the unpopular King Gyanendra. He was also suspected to be involved in anti-Maoist activities.