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ICYMI: Here are our top stories from Saturday, May 11

- Post Report, Kathmandu

May 11, 2019-

Here are some of the top stories from The Kathmandu Post (May 11, 2019).

Is Nepal’s #MeToo movement finally taking off?

When a report about sexual harassment in Nepal’s theatre community became public last month, nearly a dozen actors, both men and women, were rehearsing their lines for the play ‘Private is Political’ on the fourth floor of the Kausi Theatre in Teku. In the play, which is the fourth rendition of The Vagina Monologues in Nepal, the actors reenact incidents of sexual harassment similar to those currently creating ripples across Nepal’s theatre scene.

The story, which was published by Shukrabar weekly, carried several female actors’ allegations of sexual harassment against Raj Kumar Pudasaini of One World Theatre, Rajan Khatiwada of Mandala and Sunil Pokharel, the venerable founder of the now-defunct Gurukul Theatre. On April 19, One World Theatre Nepal, a non-profit theatre company, went a step ahead and suspended Pudasaini from several of its projects for a year.

The timing of the play and the story was incidental, but for those following sporadic sexual harassment stories reported in the Nepali media, including several in The Kathmandu Post, what followed was a rare instance when men accused were publicly held to account by their own institutions.

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Suren J Amarasekera steps down as Ncell managing director

Suren J Amarasekera, the managing director of the Ncell Private Limited, has resigned from his post, according to sources at the telecom company.

Amarasekera notified Ncell employees this week that he was stepping down from his post citing personal and family reasons and Friday was his last day in office, one Ncell official familiar with the development told the Post.

Amarasekera was appointed the managing director of the private telecom service provider in July 2017, a year after Ncell came under the majority ownership of the Malaysia-based Axiata Group Berhad following the acquisition of TeliaSonera’s stake in the company.

The resignation of the company's top official comes weeks after Ncell’s tax dispute reached the Supreme Court as well as the International Centre for the Settlement of the Investment Disputes in Singapore, following the decision by the Large Taxpayers Office to make the telecom company pay Rs.39.06 billion in capital gains tax.

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Benefits for Thapa-led group concern leaders of the Maoist stream in unified communist party

Leaders from the Maoist stream in the ruling Nepal Communist Party have been expressing concerns over increasing opportunities for the leaders of the Ram Bahadur Thapa faction, which had joined the erstwhile Maoist Centre after deserting the group led by Mohan Baidya.

With most of Thapa’s supporters receiving the benefits--both in the government and the unified party--other leaders of the former Maoist faction have started expressing discontent within the party.

One of the senior-most leaders of the Maoist insurgents during the ‘people’s war’--which ended in 2006--Thapa has always been at the crucial decision-making level in the CPN (Maoist Centre) and also in the new party.

According to leaders, the only ministry allotted to the erstwhile Maoist Centre in the Province 1 government is led by Indra Aangbo of Thapa’s group while the deputy speaker of the provincial assembly, Saraswoti Pokhrel, was also from the same group.

Internal affairs and law ministers Hari Chuman (Gandaki Province) and Kul Prasad KC (Province 5) also represent Thapa’s group.

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Proposed media bill envisions a new press council with increased government role in Nepal

A new Media Council bill, which aims to give sweeping powers to the self-regulatory body overseeing the press, has raised alarm as information rights activists and journalists say the new council could increase direct attacks on the press.

The bill, which aims to replace the existing Press Council Act and was registered on Thursday, will have more authority to issue hefty fines and give the government more say in the hiring and firing of the council members.

Dilip Thapa Magar, the vice president of Federation of Nepali Journalists, says increasing the government’s role in council member recommendation process could jeopardize free press.

“Newsroom critical of the government might end up in trouble more frequently if political appointees increase in the new council being envisioned with greater authority to take stern actions,” said Magar.

Federation of Nepali Journalists on Friday afternoon called all media groups and publications to condemn the provisions in the proposed bill, saying it went against the spirit of press freedom.

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Nepal signs agreement to procure rail sets from India

The Department of Railway signed an agreement with India’s Konkan Railways Corporation Ltd on Friday to supply two Diesel Electric Multiple Unit train sets for passenger service from Kurtha of Janakpur to Jaynagar of India.

This, and the ongoing track-laying works, revive hopes of resuming the operation of Nepal's only rail service. With the agreement, rail operation will begin on the Kurtha-Jaynagar railroad within the next five months.

In March, the government had permitted the Department of Railways to procure two railway sets from India, including power car. Nepal had approved Rs846.5 million in the first phase for the purchase of trains from the Indian government undertaking.

Each of the rail sets will have five cars, with the capacity to host upto 1,300 passengers.

According to Madhusudan Adhikari, secretary at the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport, the first set will arrive within three months and the other a month thereafter.

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Published: 11-05-2019 19:00

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