In mid of January 2009 I came to struck through passing a report of HINDU, which was about the brutal murder of a young journalist from Janakpur (Nepal). Indeed such eventuality was extremely shocking for those who stand with the truthful voices to cope with the atrocities of both institutional nature and its beyond. It was unusual to see a lucid report from a distant hinterland of Mithila because of having low leaning of national media towards this geography. But I am extremely acknowledging the role of this newspaper in creating civic awareness about this unfortunate incident through the elaborate coverage.
Uma Singh was a daring journalist in her early twenties working in a Janakpur based Radio Today FM. Even though she was an obscure figure from outside of Madhes region but she had earned a lot of repute in her very short stint through her professional commitment and caliber.
Of course she was endowed with the spirit to resist the evils of society but she had to stopped in her midway. Hailing from a landlord family of Sirha district was proven a major misfortune for her as she became the third victim of her family after her father and brother, who kidnapped and killed by the Maoists few year back but case with her is different as some close links were found in conspiracy. After carnage in her family she spent most of her time in Janakpur working candidly in both the print and electronic medium.
Uma Singh was emerged from a new generation of Madhes region who promisingly striving for their political and civil rights which so far has been neglected in this region. Like many of her colleagues she had also shown her critical temper against the violence and criminality of Maoists and other armed groups of Madhes region.
She had stand for genuine cause of Madhes but refrained her self from being cynical about in action, she was quite aware about the moral imperatives. In her little age she confronted with too much oddities, which infused rationality in her approach. She used to host a radio show ‘Garma garam chah’ which was being very popular with her responsive presentation.
I came to know more about her work from Jitendra Jha (a journalist friend from Nepal) who once working with her in radio .He called me in detail about the incidents, he was extremely shocked to see such tragical outcome of a promising colleague.
To know more about the incident I searched some leading newspapers of Nepal where I found a very closed account from an article of Prashant Jha, in which he admired a lot to her relentless pursuit for right of peoples. Of course she became a victim because her candid approach towards the social evils and its practitioners. She remained agitated for better outcome of political and social issues, she could have leave a normal life if she had chosen a submissive approach like most of women of Terai region. She was targeted because she spoke truth against the wrong practices without being afraid of its consequences.
It was a solace to viewing a full length article of Kalpana Sharma (Requiem fo Uma Singh, HINDU, Jan 2009), she tried to evaluate this unfortunate incident in very true manner and exposed the real story on larger platform. Such happenings are very alarming in a democracy, which deserves strong universal condemnation.
Having myself very familiar with the Terai region and especially with the Janakpur town, I never imagined that such acts could be happen in this peaceful locality. In back thirteen years Nepal undergone through a severe political metamorphosis which badly altered the traditional tolerant social fabrics of whole country, obviously Janakpur also not remain unaffected.
During my last visit to Janakpur in November 2008, I have had a detailed chat with some of local journalist friends like Ramesh Ranjan, Ashok Dutt, Prateek Bhandari, brother Ashuosh Thakur about the falling resistance of media in the wake of ongoing turmoil in Nepal, which chunked the healthy debate over recent happenings in country.
They were quite despaired with the inertness of media and its falling role in recent developments. Situations has worsened even after the restoration of democracy , because terms and conditions of ruling Maoists ideology in Nepal is still far from being clear which holding the country in fray situation. I also observed some unfortunate motives in the psyche of pseudo rebellions from Madhes region who are dejecting the peoples in the name of their right and forming strife in co-existential relations with the Pahadis (From hill areas), which is completely unjustifiable and would be proved disaster if not checked immediately.
In recent times Janakpur played a very decisive role in recently held political transformation due to having a conducive approach from Madhesi peoples and their local media in the form of FM Radio channel.
The peoples of region have to acknowledge their recently gained edge in new political order in Nepal which was a distant dream previously, so, they have to adopt the way of harmony instead the reactions to sustain this advantage. The flame of those spirit still matters for the Madhesi peoples if they determined to avoid the future losses.
There could be hardly any answer for rampant violence and brutal killing of a such dedicated figure like Uma Singh; Peoples should farewell to their own torchbearer through saving the flickering ethical spirits from wild winds and put them to condemn the viciousness of violence, this could be genuine solace for her.
Atul Kumar Thakur
New Delhi,April10th 2009