Prateek Pradhan, editor-in-chief, baahrakhari.com, recalls the Nepal King’s absolute communication clampdown in Nepal more than a dozen years ago, and discusses the lessons learned.
Ujjwal Acharya: In February, 2005, King Gyanendra cut off all communication channels, including the internet, for weeks. You were the editor of The Kathmandu Post daily newspaper. How do you remember the time?
Prateek Pradhan: I very vividly remember the day. The King was addressing the nation at around 9:30 am and he has just announced that he was taking over executive powers. It was shocking, as the country was a democracy and we never thought at that juncture that King Gyanendra would take such a bold step. At that time, I was editor of the Kathmandu Post, and I got a call from the royal Secretariat and was summoned to a meeting. The Secretary also told me that that was the last phone call he was making.
We (editors) went to the palace to meet the Secretary, and we protested. He threatened us that if we didn’t comply with the authorities, anything could happen to us. At that time, all phone lines were cut, internet was cut, and there was a kind of chaos as people didn’t know what was happening. Military surrounded all media houses; young military officers were going through all the contents we were writing. It was very difficult time for media and journalists. It was very very difficult to publish newspapers.