Politicians accused of murder in Nepal

The justice system in Nepal is being tested by the arrest of two prominent politicians, sparking widespread debate about impunity and authoritarianism.

In October the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Krishna Bahadur Mahara, was arrested after a health worker filed an allegation of attempted rape.  A week later another MP, Aftab Alam, was arrested, accused of murder and possession of explosives. 

In Alam’s case, the charges are based on accusations by relatives of two men injured – and then allegedly killed – while making bombs for an election campaign in 2006. Family members claim the bombs were intended to scare voters and block polling stations. 

The two cases have shaken Nepal. In the aftermath of the 10-year civil war, justice for war crimes hasn’t been served and powerful people go unpunished. As a result, many Nepalis people have no faith in the legal system. Arrests of eminent politicians like Mahara and Alam are unprecedented. This time, strong allegations and pressure from activists has forced the government to act.

Nevertheless, the public is waiting to see whether two men remain in custody or under arrest during continuing police inquiries, whether the allegations hold up, and whether witnesses stick to their statements: several media reports allege that attempts have been made to threaten and bribe them. 

Both men say they are innocent and neither has resigned their parliamentary seat.

Nepal is holding its breath in anticipation of the two court decisions.


/Sewa Bhattarai, Nepal

The postcards written by journalists in our network are published on the Blankspot Project website.

Nepal: Explosions shake Kathmandu

Four people died and at least seven were injured when three explosions shook Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, on 26 May. The armed Maoist group Biplov Faction claimed responsibility for the attack.

The explosions occurred the evening before a national protest against the death in custody of one of Biplov’s members. According to the group’s leader, Netra Bikram Chand (nom de guerre Biplov), the bombs accidentally exploded a day early, thereby mostly injuring the group’s own supporters.

Supposedly, the intention was to highlight the protests by scaring people. The day after the blasts more than a dozen home-made bombs were found in different parts of the country and there were several arson incidents. The public is now worried.


“I’m very scared. Bombs are not the solution when democratic methods are available,” says mother-of-two Suryama Shrestha. “We remember the violence during the Maoist era [the 1996-2006 civil war] and this makes us fear a recurrence.”

After the war, the Maoists put down their weapons and became politicians: today they are a part of the ruling coalition government. But a breakout fraction, Biplov, continues the armed fight.


Former armed Maoist leaders who are now politicians condemn Biplov’s actions as terrorism. This has created a strong counter-reaction as the Maoist politicians still refer to the violent attacks that carried them to victory as a legitimate revolution – and not as terrorism.

/Sewa Bhattarai, Nepal

The postcards written by journalists in our network are published on the Blankspot Project website.

The Himalayas are melting – in Nepal this is not news

The Himalayas are home to ten of the world’s 14 mountains above 8,000 metres. But how high will the peaks be in 80 years?

According to a new report by two mountain monitoring organisations (ICIMOD and HIMAP), two-thirds of Himalayan ice will disappear by 2100 if global warming continues unchecked.

Nepal is directly affected by this and other changes in the mountain environment. Climate change has been affecting the Himalayas for years through receding glaciers, water problems, migration to lowlands and increased weather extremes. But the report released in the capital, Kathmandu, in March secured scarcely a mention in the country’s media: the people hit hardest by the impact of these destabilising changes have little knowledge of why their living conditions are changing so quickly. 

Mani Nepal, an economist with the Asian Network for Development and Environmental Economics, agrees that “media have an important role to play in raising awareness”. 

Other environmental activists agree: it’s time to shout about it from the mountain tops.

/Sewa Battarai, Nepal.

The postcards written by journalists in our network are published on the Blankspot Project website.

Kathmandu plastered with government posters

When we woke  on 27 November, Kathmandu had changed overnight: every street light pole and advertising space featured the face of Prime Minister K P Oli. “A new era begins” proclaimed the posters promoting a new social security scheme. 

Social media was soon flooded with ironic memes about the new era. Critics attacked the publicity campaign’s huge expense and the showy display that took the focus away from the scheme itself.

Many journalists and political scientists are also concerned about this and other signs of megalomania. The communist government has recently passed laws that criminalise aspects of investigative journalism, photography and satire, and strengthen actions against slander and libel. The message is clear: the government will take no criticism.

The PM’s speech at the inauguration of the scheme was explicit about the intention to control. “For those who say they do not see the government’s presence, do you still not see it? If you don’t, you won’t have to wear spectacles to do so. In future you will be forced to see it, whether or not you want to!”

/Sewa Bhattarai, Kathmandu.

The postcards by journalists in our network are published on the Blank Spot Project website.

I was surprised that grandma accepted cooking with eggs

Article published in Svenska Dagbladet, from the series Äta tillsammans (Eating Together)
16 July 2018
By Bhrikuti Rai
Photos: Bikram Rai

Nepal. Thirty year old marketing manager Yukti Pant lives in Kathmandu with her parents and grandmother. Traditionally the family are strict vegetarians, but Yukti got a taste for meat when she was visiting relatives, and often eats out with friends so that she can choose a meat dish.

“Grandma is so strict with her traditional customs. That she accepted egg to be cooked in her kitchen was really surprising”, says Yukti.

Full article (in Swedish) here:

I encourage men to buy sanitary pads for their sisters

Article published in Omvärlden
22 November 2016
By Bhrikuti Rai
Photos: Bikram Rai

Nepal. Sabin Singh tries to break old patriarchal patterns by talking to boys and men about menstruation. Women who menstruate are often seen as unclean, and in more traditional areas they can be forced to sleep in cow manure, he says.

“I was first introduced to ideas that question traditional gender roles in Nepal when I was a teenager. In an after school club in the neighbourhood, games were based on themes related to gender roles and the importance of gender equality. Since then, I’ve participated in several programs and projects that aim to encourage gender equality at home and at the workplace. Currently I’m working with the popular Nepalese radio show ‘Saathi Sanga Manka Kura’ (in English: ‘Chatting to my best friend’) which discusses topics about growing up and becoming an adult. Gender roles is a recurring theme.”

Full article (in Swedish) here:

Climber crushes gender norms

Article published in  Fria Tidningen
27 May 2016
By Bhrikuti Rai
Photos: Bikram Rai

Nepal. Despite Pasang Lhamu Sherpa Akita being  very a experienced mountain climber, it wasn’t until she won a prestigious National Geographic award that most Nepalese people heard of her. Nepal is home of 8 out of the world’s 14 summits over 8000 metres, so mountain climbing is a significant sport – albeit very male dominated. Pasang Lhamu is adamant about challenging the gender related stereotypes and making her mark within the sport.

Full article (in Swedish) here: