Kathmandu Press accuses its site developer of removing a news article without consentThe article had alleged the involvement of the sons of the Defence Minister and the prime minister’s chief advisor, along with Oli’s IT consultant, in procuring medical equipment from China.
Kathmandu Press, an online news outlet, has accused Shiran Technologies of accessing their backend and removing a news report.
Kosmos Biswakarma, editor-in-chief of Kathmandu Press, said in a press release that web developers Shiran Technologies, which also developed the Kathmandu Press website, remotely accessed the website’s backend and took down an article regarding the involvement of numerous people in the procurement of medical supplies from China.
The article had pointed out the involvement of Asgar Ali, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s IT consultant; Kshitiz Rimal, the son of Oli’s chief advisor Bishnu Rimal; and Swaraj Pokhrel, the son of Defence Minister Ishwar Pokhrel. Ali is one of the founders and a partner in F1Soft, which owns eSewa and Shiran Technologies.
According to Kathmandu Press, upon publication of the news report, ‘Involvement of defence minister and prime minister’s advisor’s sons in purchase of expensive medical equipment’, on Tuesday evening, they began to receive calls and messages from numerous people, including Biswas Dhakal and Subhas Sharma, the chairs of F1Soft, asking them to take down the report.
But, according to the press release, the management informed them that a published article could not be removed and asked them to provide a written response.
“Again, Prajwal Maharjan from Shiran Technologies called the outlet at 10:30 in the morning on Wednesday and told us to remove the article, which we refused once again," reads the press release. "We also asked him not to do anything with the website."
But about two minutes later, the article vanished from the site and publishing any new reports was disabled from 2-4pm on Wednesday, says the press release.
Speaking to the news portal Ratopati on Wednesday, Biswakarma alleged that Shiran Technologies had created a new administrator account to access the website and take down the article.
“This might be the first case of web developers removing a published article from a news portal. We regard this as an attempt to control the press and undermine the press freedom guaranteed by the constitution,” Biswakarma said in Thursday’s press release.
“There is a clear legal procedure that can be sought if anyone has issues with a published article,” reads the press release. “We are ready to correct or be punished according to the law if we have committed any mistake in the articles we have published.”
Although the press release refrains from naming Ali, Dhakal or Sharma as being behind the removal of the report, it is heavily implied that Shiran Technologies took the step at their behest.
While Ali denied all involvement in taking down the news, he admitted that Dhakal might have made a “friendly” call to the Kathmandu Press editorial team.
“Someone like Dhakal might have made a call in a friendly manner and requested them to publish news based on facts. But we never intimidated them,” Ali told the Post. “Ever since I joined the prime minister’s team, I have not been associated with any personal business as there could be questions about conflict of interest.”