(01 APRIL 2005 – 07 APRIL 2005)
At the height of the Maoist insurgency 10 years ago, JB dared to trek to the cradle of the revolution in Thawang. Against the advice of his editor at Rajya Satta, JB went to Rolpa merely out of curiosity.
“I just wanted to find out what it was like out there,” he recalls matter-of-factly.
The notorious Operation Romeo that resulted in extrajudicial killings of many civilians had just been launched. Even the Maoist militants were shocked and confused to see a little known journalist walking into their stronghold.
When he went to Rolpa again last Dasain, the Maoists were holding a secret meeting with Prachanda. The army, having received information about the meeting, had surrounded the area. The rebels accused JB of being an army spy and threatened him. It was his nonchalance and fearlessness that saved him. After eight hours of hostile interrogation, he was finally released.
“Journalism is about adventure. Unless you accept that you don’t get anywhere as a real reporter,” says the 31-year-old JB. He has been offered jobs by editors in the safety of Kathmandu but he has turned them all down. “It’s fun in the field, desk jobs are boring,” he says.
JB has now the distinction of being detained and interrogated by just about every armed group in the country: the guerrillas, police, army, vigilantes and criminal gangs. On one trip, JB happened to be in a village when the Maoists attacked vigilante leader Muna Khan’s house. Khan managed to escape with his family even after the Maoists hurled three socket bombs killing three of his bodyguards. Suspecting JB of helping the rebels, he was detained for the night and warned not to return. To their surprise, JB showed up three days later. Finding it difficult to shake JB off, the notorious Khan finally gave in and agreed to an interview.
JB says with his characteristic grin:
“I don’t mean you should be suicidal but you should be prepared to take risks if you are in the business of finding out the truth.”
But there is one thing that really scares JB: his mother’s scoldings after each trip.