By Tenzin Sangmo
Undated photo of Nepali devotees greeting His Holiness the Dalai Lama. PC - dalailama80.org
DHARAMSHALA, May 13: Three journalists at the English desk of Rastriya Samachar Samiti (RSS), the largest and longest-serving news agency in Nepal faces probe for disseminating a news item on His Holiness the Dalai Lama, reported The Kathmandu Post.
On April 27, 2019, Mohani Risal, Somnath Lamichhanne and Jivan Bhandari translated and disseminated the Asia New International (ANI) report “Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama had returned to Dharamshala after receiving treatment at a private hospital for a chest infection.”
Gokul Prasad Baskota, Minister of Information and Communications summoned RSS Chairperson Shyam Prasad Adhikari the next day and ordered a probe, as confirmed by the former in an interview with the Kathmandu Post recently.
“Tibet issue is sensitive for China and dissemination of a report regarding the Dalai Lama by the state-run news agency--particularly during President Bidya Devi Bhandari’s state visit to China--was against Nepal’s commitment to One-China policy,” he reportedly told Post.
RSS Chairperson Adhikari formed a four-member probe committee under Dilliram Bhattarai, a member of the RSS board.
The trio facing the probe had met with Adhikari and expressed reservations about the working environment and the lack of press freedom.
One of the reporters at RSS the Post spoke to, said on the condition of anonymity that an official from the Chinese state-owned news agency, Xinhua had visited the RSS Chairperson the day after the news was published on online outlets.
Baskota, who ordered the probe, admitted to not knowing whether it was politically motivated or lack of judgment while adding, “had that news been published on Gorkhapatra,” a vernacular news agency from which he was supposed to have been tipped off, “I would have had to resign.”
The three journalists, in their defence, have said, “the Dalai Lama is a global newsmaker and that his health condition made important news for people around the world, including in Nepal” and asserted they did not have any ulterior motive.
Bhattarai said the committee is studying the clarification they have received from the three journalists in question and the RSS chairman is the final authority to take a decision.