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Mystery shrouds the death of journalist who exposed China’s occupation of Nepali village

50-year-old journalist Balram Baniya. (Photo courtesy: OP India)

(TibetanReview.net, Aug14’20) – A Nepali journalist has died under mysterious circumstances two months after he had reported that a border village of Nepal had become part of Chinese ruled Tibet after the border marker had been moved without anyone in authority on the Nepali side noticing it. The body of 50-year-old journalist Balram Baniya was found near the Mandu Hydropower Project in Sisneri in Makawanpur, Nepal, on Aug 11, reported opindia.com Aug 14.

The body was found afloat in the Bagmati river adjoining the Balkhu bridge. He was reported to have been interrogated by a police team in Balkhu on Aug 10 and he informed them that he was going home. He was seen moving in the direction of the vegetable market near the Balkhu bridge, located on the banks of Balkhu River.

The Federation of Nepali Journalists, Freedom Forum, and Nepal Press Union have demanded a free and fair probe into the death of the veteran journalist. “We demand that the government investigate and make public the truth about the mysterious death of the journalist,” the federation was quoted as saying in a statement.

Baniya had reported that China had occupied the Rui village in Gorkha district of Nepal. The news had led to protests in the country while Kathmandu took little interest to find out the truth.

The report said Bir Bahadur Lama, the President of Chumubari Rural Municipality ward number 1, had conceded that even though the people of Rui had deposited their share of land revenue to the Nepal government, they had become Tibetans following the encroachment by China.

Nepal’s Khabarhub reported that pillar number 35 was demarcated as the border between Samdo and Rui village. However, after the restoration work on pillar No. 35, the village came under Chinese occupation.

The report gave little information about Baniya’s death. It cited the Nepal Press Union as saying the death of Balaram Baniya remained mysterious as deep cuts were found on his body. It cited Ajay Babu Shuwakoti, General Secretary of Nepal Press Union, as saying his death could be connected to his critical and daring stories.

Baniya, a former secretary of the Federation of Nepali Journalists, worked for Kantipur Daily, and is survived by survived by his wife, a son, and a daughter.

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