Gangtok: Hours after publishing an editorial on how a 26-year-old woman allegedly died due to lack of ICU beds at Sikkim‘s STNM Hospital, The Sikkim Today founder and local journalist Jeewan Dahal had to delete it after receiving threat calls from unknown persons.
Ironically, the day he deleted the post — May 3 — also happened to be World Press Freedom Day.
The Sikkim Today is a Facebook media page.
EastMojo spoke with Dahal to hear his side of the story on what compelled him to ‘drop’ the editorial.
What did you share and why did you take it down?
I shared an article about a 26-year-old woman, who died at STNM Hospital due to the unavailability of an ICU bed. As soon as we published the article, it went viral. However, due to pressure from various sources, I had to take down the post.
Related: No ICU beds killed a 26-year-old. Can Sikkim deal with the COVID-19 surge?
Was the report very intriguing?
The report is 100% true, as I have already said before. I have made it absolutely clear that I stand by my statements on Sunday’s ICU bed crisis at STNM Hospital. I’m completely confident that the truth will prevail. Even the deceased’s husband and many others, including hospital staff, were there. I made it absolutely clear that everything I said is based on facts.
Who told you to take it down?
At 8 pm, I got a call from a number asking me to take that post down since it’s fake and worthless. At 8:30 pm, I got another call asking me to take that post down immediately. I told them that it happened at STNM Hospital, but they wouldn’t listen. They just wanted me to take the post down. I continued getting calls and finally at 4 am I had to take it down after a lot of pressure.
Also read: Sikkim: Did a COVID-19 patient die because others refused to leave ICU?
How much engagement did the story generate?
Before the post was taken down, more than 1,000 people had already liked it with 46,000 engagement and 195 shares and over 200 comments on Facebook.
How did you find out about the story?
One of our editorial team members was at STNM Hospital. He somehow found about the crisis and called me immediately. The story was very disturbing, so I asked my team to cover it only after hearing it from the husband of the deceased.
How long was it on air?
We posted it at 4:01 pm on May 2. I had to take it down at 4:30 am on May 3.
And this happened on World Press Freedom Day. What is your take on it?
The Sikkim Today has always covered real issues. I really don’t know who they are but I feel bad that it had to happen on World Press Freedom Day. I am completely confident that truth will prevail. Any attempt to intimidate me will not work.
Also read: Sikkim COVID-19: STNM Hospital adds 115 beds, workforce a big concern
Do journalists often get threats in Sikkim?
I experienced this for the third time. I got the first one when we covered the Jalipool scam in 2020; the second one was an article on the Rorethang river. I don’t know about others, but I will continue to report the truth every day.
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