Kantipur Media Group CMD Kailash Sirohiya responds to recent allegationsThis is the English translation of Kantipur Media Group Chairman and Managing Director Kailash Sirohiya’s press statement made in response to the allegations made by Rastriya Swatantra Party President Rabi Lamichhane.
First of all, I would like to express my regret at the way Rabi Lamichhane, President of Rastriya Swatantra Party, has levelled baseless allegations against the Nepali media fraternity and media personnel during his press conference on Sunday. Perhaps he was expressing his frustration at the honourable Supreme Court stripping him of his lawmaker portfolio or over his inability to again become the Home Minister. Or maybe he was trying to divert public attention away from the ongoing police investigation into his possession of two passports. Whatever the case, his premeditated questioning of the prestige and trustworthiness of the entire Nepali media fraternity will not be acceptable to anyone who believes in press freedom and democracy.
During the same press conference, Lamichhane tried to target me, my family and the Kantipur Media Group. I would like to openly challenge him to prove his allegations over the following points:
1) Kantipur daily had published news on the Chandragiri Cable Car (under Chandragiri Hills Ltd.) as a part of its professional duty. In the same connection, Lamichhane wrongly accuses me of holding shares in Chandragiri. “Who doesn’t know that he accepted kickbacks in Chandragiri Hills?” he questioned me. I have serious reservations over this. I don’t know if he knows this: Chandragiri Hills is a public limited company and anyone can easily check who owned what percentage of shares in it and at what time, from the concerned government office. Neither I nor any of my family members has ever owned a single share in the company. I have serious reservations over Lamichhane’s false accusations along this line.
2) In relation to the car accident of my son Sambhav Sirohiya on the morning of December 12, 2015, Lamichhane has again tried to sensationalise the incident, as if there had been a huge ‘scandal’ which was deliberately suppressed. Unlike Lamichhane’s portrayal of the incident, neither had the car hit any pedestrian on the street nor had it collided with any other vehicle. It was an unfortunate accident in which one of my relatives sustained minor injuries for which he was treated at Norvic Hospital for a time. There was absolutely nothing in the incident that should have been hidden, nor was any attempt made to hide it. Instead, Sambhav Sirohiya had formally notified the Traffic Police Office at Baggikhana of what had happened. We are surprised why a person who has already served in the capacity of Home Minister would try to mislead the public by suggesting a cover-up. And who gave him the right to try to destroy someone’s private life by spreading such a blatant lie?
3) After someone running a Facebook account by the name of ‘Sidha Kura’ tried to question my personal character by linking me to an incident of a woman’s harassment at the Soaltee Hotel, I had tweeted a rebuttal on August 27, 2020. In the tweet I had mentioned how I had lodged a formal complaint with the police, demanding strong legal punishment. Bringing up the same incident, Lamichhane made another accusation against me: “No one knows till date where and when Sirohiya lodged such a complaint”.
We had lodged the complaint at the Kathmandu Valley Crime Investigation Office on August 27, 2020. Soaltee Hotel had also clarified that it had no room with the number ‘928’ as was mentioned on the Facebook page in relation to the incident cited above. Again, we had filed a complaint at the Kathmandu Valley Crime Investigation Office, requesting that the person involved in publishing such baseless material on ‘Sidha Kura’ be “immediately apprehended, investigated and punished under Electronic Transactions Act-2063”. In light of these facts, can a person who was no less than the country’s Home Minister spread such obvious falsehood?
4) Lamichhane has also raised questions over my investments in Himalayan Reinsurance Limited, saying, “Open an insurance [company in Nepal], and you must give him a cut”. I have also seen various questions on this issue on social media. While this company was being established some years ago, as a businessman, I too had bought promoter shares worth Rs 10 crores. I did not get the shares as a personal favour but bought them with my own taxable income. For this purpose, I had withdrawn money from my accounts in Kumari Bank and Nepal Investment Bank Limited and bought the shares with the same money. Why can’t I take part in a perfectly legal business transaction?
5) Bringing up the unsubstantiated claim once made by businessmen Ajaya Sumargi that I used to accept ‘golden shares’, Rabi Lamichhane made another highly objectionable accusation: “These are such golden shares that any big business that is being established must give Kantipur’s publisher Kailash Sirohiya as a commission”. First of all, I would like to remind everyone of the ruling of the Kathmandu District Court in our favour in relation to a case we had filed against Sumargi in the same connection.
Second, can Lamichhane furnish any proof that I had accepted such golden shares? I want to challenge him: Can he point to a single share that I or any of my family members bought with an income that we did not earn from legal sources and for which we did not pay taxes?
He made yet another highly objectionable claim that “If you go against Kantipur, you will be killed, felled, finished.” We have never fought to exact any kind of personal revenge against anyone. But yes, the Kantipur Media Group did fight: Yesterday, as the articulator of people’s aspirations during the Jana Andolan against the autocratic monarchy, as a crusader for good governance against the autocratic tendencies of Lokman Singh Karki, the then chief of the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority—we were even ready to go to jail when we stood against former Chief Justice Gopal Parajuli. Kantipur has never been afraid of undue pressure and challenges, and I would like to assure everyone that it will continue to fulfil its professional duty today, tomorrow–and always.
In the end,
Rabi Lamichhane has publicly warned Kantipur or any other media house that publishes news against him that he would “encircle their offices” and “dispense with his own punishment”. Isn’t this an open challenge to press freedom? Shouldn’t the state organs initiate a legal process against him for trying to take the law into his own hands? Should we take his warnings as his personal view or as the Rastriya Swatantra Party’s official position? Shouldn’t other leaders and lawmakers from the party make their opinion public on such a serious issue? If not, we will be forced to take this as his party’s position. I want to keep this in the public archive: If any of our journalists, office workers or offices are in any way physically targeted, all the responsibility for it must be borne by Lamichhane and his party.
I have put forward my views in a clear and transparent way before readers and well-wishers. The news on Lamichhane published by this media are facts established by Nepal’s constitution and laws, and by the Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court. What is the basis of the allegations Lamichhane has levelled against us? Can he too honestly answer all the questions raised against him, including on his citizenship, dual passport and dual nationality?
Date: February 7, 2023
Chairman and Managing Director
Kantipur Media Group, Kathmandu