Rishi Dhamala goes bizarre inside NAC aircraft

Rishi Dhamala breached safety and civil aviation protocol. Yet nobody believes our agencies are capable of holding him accountable.

NL Today

  • Read Time 3 min.

Kathmandu: Once again journalist Rishi Dhamala is in the limelight, but for all bad reasons, as always. He has courted controversy anew, for, what people are saying, ‘breaching all limits of ethics and standard of journalism’. 

On the April 3 episode of his show “Janata Janna Chahanchan”, he is seen doing a live program from inside the aircraft. While covering live, Dhamala, associated with Prime Television and also chair of Reporters’ Club Nepal, tried to enter into the business class of the plane, which just landed, despite frequent requests from crew members of the aircraft not to. 

In the video, Dhamala is seen breaching the aircraft protocol. Despite the flight attendants’ request, Dhamala, like always, didn’t care about the request and attempted to enter the business class of the Nepal Airlines aircraft. 

The incident happened in the Nepal Airlines aircraft in which Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba along with the team landed at Kathmandu airport completing his three-day official visit to India. 

A few months ago too, Dhamala covered an event against journalism morale and ethics. In the middle of a meeting of the Nepal Bar Association, Dhamala barged in, to the apparent horror of all present, and started asking questions to advocates. The video, at that time too, went viral on social media, but the authorities concerned were not even found to question him.

In the name of covering the event on April 3, Dhamala went absolutely bizarre, and despite requests from flight attendants, he tried breaching security and civil aviation protocols.

However, the aviation authorities do not seem to care about it at all. Ubaraj Adhikari,  Executive Chairman at Nepal Airlines Corporation, said that what Rishi Dhamala did is not a big issue. It is an insignificant issue to discuss, he told Nepal Live Today. Asked whether NAC will initiate any action against him, he said that legal action is not required against what Dhamala did.

Rishi Dhamala has demonstrated yet another questionable behavior inside an aircraft. People believe that he will not face any action given his connection with politicians and power centers in Nepal.

According to Deo Chandra Lal Karn, spokesperson for the Civil Aviation Authority, it was a VIP flight. “As per the protocol, a journalist or anybody should not breach the safety guidelines. But we are not the authority to take any action against the passenger,” he said, adding that the NAC should be clear whether it was against the protocol or not. “The NAC should take action as per the regulation of the airlines.”

Despite several attempts, Nepal Live Today couldn’ reach Dhamala to take his views about the issue. 

Press Council seeks clarification

Meanwhile, Press Council Nepal has sought a 24-hour clarification from Rishi Dhamala for his behavior. The letter sent by the statutory body responsible to enforce the journalist code of conduct asked Dhamala why he forcefully entered the restricted area despite crew members trying to stop him.

“Why was the live telecast done by entering the restricted area ignoring security vulnerability without consent of crew members? Why are you repeating such unprofessional activities time and again? You have been directed to submit a 24-hour clarification,” reads the letter by Press Council Nepal.

Ethical question: FNJ

In the meantime, the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) said that the incident is against journalism morals and ethics. “It was wrong in several ways. It is against the security and civil aviation protocols. His [Dhamala’s] behavior was not a legal question so much as a moral one,” Bipul Pokharel, president of the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ), told Nepal Live Today.

FNJ always welcomes journalists’ right to obtain information and freedom of reporting. Journalists, however,  should be aware of the code of ethics while doing so, he said. “More responsibility is expected from journalists while covering stories on sensitive issues at sensitive times. Also, journalists should respect the security concerns of high officials including the Prime Minister,” Pokharel explained.