KMG chief Sirohiya breaks his silenceOffers point-by-point rebuttals of the charges against him and his family.
Chairperson and Managing Director of the Kantipur Media Group Kailash Sirohiya on Tuesday challenged Rabi Lamichhane, president of Rastriya Swatantra Party and former deputy prime minister and home minister, to establish the charges levelled against him.
Issuing a five-point statement, Sirohiya clarified that the pointed charges made against him and his family members were not only baseless but also malicious. “Maybe Lamichhane 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,” reads the statement.
Ten days after the Supreme Court stripped him of membership of the lower house, Lamichanne, organising a press meet, had attacked Nepal’s most popular media outlets, levelling grave allegations against them. Sirohiya offered point-by-point rebuttals of the charges against him and his family and offered a strong defence of Nepal’s broader media fraternity.
Dismissing Lamichhane’s accusations that Sirohiya owned shares of Chandragiri Cable Car, which is under Chandragiri Hills Limited, allegedly in return for stopping publishing reports against the project, he said neither he nor any of his family members ever owned a single Chandragiri share. “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 government office concerned,” he said in the statement.
He also said while it was true that a car driven by Sambhav Sirohiya, his son, met with an accident in Maitighar in December 2015, there was absolutely nothing to hide about it. In fact, Sambhav himself had informed the Kathmandu Valley Traffic Police Office about the incident. “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.”
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, the statement continues. “And who gave him the right to try to destroy someone’s private life by spreading such a blatant lie?”
In attacking the Kantipur Media Group, Lamichhane had brought up an unsubstantiated claim made by businessmen Ajaya Sumargi that Sirohiya gets ‘golden shares’ for every big business established in the country. Through the statement, Sirohiya labelled the charge as highly objectionable. “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. 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?” the statement questions.
Sirohiya said he had bought shares in the Himalayan Reinsurance Limited through his hard-earned money and there is no reason he cannot take part in perfectly legal transactions.
The chief of the Kantipur Media Group also has issued clarification on a suggested case of a woman’s harassment. Against the allegations that the incident happened in room number “928” at the Soaltee Hotel, Sirohiya said that the hotel had already clarified that there was no room with that number in the hotel and that he had on August 27, 2020 also pressed a legal charge against the disseminator of the fake news.
While presenting his clarification on Lamichhane’s allegations, Sirohiya also asked the Rastriya Swatantra Party to clarify whether their president’s tirade on Sunday was his personal view or that of his party. “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,” reads the statement.
While he spent over an hour making unsubstantiated allegations against the media fraternity, Lamichhane offered little in proof. Instead, complaints have been lodged against him at the police over his possession of dual passports and forgery. If proven guilty in the passport case, Lamichhane will have to face jail term and he will forever lose the right to contest elections at any of the three tiers. The Supreme Court has already made it clear that he didn’t have a Nepali citizenship while contesting the November 20 federal election from Chitwan-2.
“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,” Sirohiya said. “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 passports and dual nationality?”