When the whole newspaper becomes a crossword puzzle

Reading between the lines in censored Nepal

The Kathmandu Post is educating its readers on the virtues of wearing clean, branded socks. Nepali Times, on the other hand is holding forth on Kathmandu’s poplars and eucalyptus trees. Given that there are more pressing issues at hand in the country, reading newspapers has become an exercise in looking for clues in between the lines.

Here are some first hand reports from Dinesh Wagle, a Nepalese journalist-blogger and Blogdai, an unknown commodity/undercover blogger.

For those who are old enough to remember, Indian journalists went through something similar (and worse) during Indira Gandhi’s Emergency of 1975-77.

Here is one trick that fooled the censorship imposed along with the declaration of Emergency by Indira Gandhi on June 25, 1975. Ashok Mahadevan, a young journalist, felt terribly annoyed at the revocation of all forms of freedom. He decided to take on the censor and bring him down a peg or two. He recollected an obituary that appeared on April 25, 1974, in The Daily Times of Sri Lanka when the island nation faced a similar situation. He suitably adapted it, prepared an obituary note, booked the insertion with The Times of India and waited with bated breath, not sure whether his ‘obituary note’ would go through or would be spotted by the censor and blacked out. His sighed in relief when he spotted the obituary in the issue of June 28. It read: D’CRACY D.E.M., BELOVED HUSBAND OF T. RUTH, LOVING FATHER OF L.I. BERTIE, BROTHER OF FAITH, HOPE AND JUSTICE EXPIRED ON 26TH Jun [RK Murthi/IE]

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