Unidentified mischief makers damage radio station antennas twice in one week; disrupt news broadcast
The staff of a local radio station in Kapisa province of Afghanistan went on a strike after their services were disrupted twice in a week by unknown men.
The management of Radio Bahar in Hesse-Aval district in Kapisa informed Paiwandgāh that their daily services were disrupted on two separate occasions last week on Friday, April 29. “On investigating these disruptions, we found that cables connecting to our broadcast antenna had been cut off on both occasions,” stated Jafar Saeedi, managing editor, at the radio station.
The cable that affected is connected to the antenna that transmits Bahar broadcasts and is located on a hill called ‘Kuh-Bacha’ about a kilometer away from the station.
“The reason and intentions behind this act is still unknown and we are working closely with the police to find the people behind it,” Jafar Saeedi explained. The district governor of Hesse-Aval-e Kuhestan, Abdulfatah Shafiq, confirmed to Paiwandgāh that they were doing all they can to find the perpetrators.
While local law and order authorities are investigating the case, Saeedi informed Paiwandgāh that the radio station has received several threats in last few weeks from insurgent elements for their support of the government and national army, who are the main targets for the Taliban. “It could also be a result of a business feud,” Saeedi speculates.
However, the radio station staff have been greatly agitated with this mischief. In protest against what they see as a threat to their freedom of expression, the employees of the radio station have gone on a strike, demanding the perpetrators be brought to justice. “We want the government to not only find the perpetrators, but also assure us that we will not be victimized for our work,” says an employee of Radio Bahar. “Security, after all, is very important for practice of freedom of speech,” he added.
This isn’t the first time the radio has faced such destruction. In 2010, their broadcast was disrupted in a similar manner, when their antenna, located on Sherkat-e Nasaji Golbahar hill, was hit by unknown men.
Reports from that year state that the radio faced issues from Matiullah Safi, a local commander of Kapisa province, who wanted to move their antennas to build a stone quarry. “However, we held several demonstrations and protests at that time and met with the governors who ruled in our favor,” Saeedi recalls.
Radio is a very powerful medium for news in Afghanistan, with deep Bahar radio station is a private media operating in Kapisa. It runs news and entertainment programs in 18 hours of broadcast every day across three provinces in Afghanistan—Kapisa, Parwan, Panjshir. Despite several assurances from government, media in Afghanistan remains under threat of local and national power players.