Monday, August 30, 2010

Embassy statement row

The Parliamentary Committee on International Relations and Human Rights on Monday unanimously condemned a statement issued by the Indian Embassy in connection with media reports that questioned the quality of products manufactured by Indian joint venture Dabur Nepal.

Concluding that it was a “direct attack” on press freedom, the committee directed the government to initiate a process to take action against the embassy.

In a statement issued on Monday, the committee said the Indian Embassy’s statement was against established diplomatic norms. “The committee hereby directs the government to initiate a process to take action on the above mentioned act of the Indian Embassy,” reads the statement.

Committee Chairman Padma Lal Bishwokarma said the statement crossed all diplomatic boundaries. “We have taken serious exception to the statement. The government must react,” said BK, adding that the committee also urged the government to seek a clarification from Indian Ambassador Rakesh Sood.

The Committee’s statement follows the Nepali media fraternity’s call to the government to issue a rebuttal. In a statement on Friday, the embassy had accused the Nepali media of engaging in “unethical practices.” It claimed that media houses approached Indian joint ventures for advertisements and resorted to negative publicity when their demands were not met.

The Nepali media fraternity had promptly objected to the Indian Embassy’s press statement.

In a joint statement on Saturday, Nepal Media Society (print), Television Broadcasters, Broadcasting Association of Nepal (commercial radio) and Association of Community Radio Broadcasters Nepal (the umbrella organisation for community radio broadcasters) cautioned the Indian Embassy against “overstepping its boundary.” The media fraternity has it that the reports that quoted the government’s probe into the quality of Dabur products, were not “unethical practices”.

Most lawmakers in the Committee urged the government to stop the frequent intervention of the Indian embassy on Nepal’s internal affairs. “The government can take action against any substandard product,” said CPN-UML lawmaker Radha Gayawali. “The government must seek a clarification from the Indian Embassy,” said Sadbhawana Party lawmaker Gauri Mahato.

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