‘Report what you see on ground, don’t create stories’

New Delhi: In view of the farmer protests in Delhi where thousands of farmers have gathered to protest against the farm laws passed this year in September, the farmers have accused the few media organisations of “misreporting” and “twisting” the facts.

It all started on November 26, when the protesting farmers arrived at the Singhu border between Delhi and Haryana, they lamented, “Why is the national media not taking notice of us? Do they not see the road blocks? Do they not care about farmers?,” a Delhi-based news organisation Newslaundry quoted farmers as saying.

After four days, they had a contrary grievance, articulated through the slogan, “Godi media, go back.”

“Godi media”, refers to the media organisations that are “lapdogs” of the Narendra Modi led government of India, and, according to the report, are currently maintaining distance from the protesting farmers by not reporting the facts.

According to Newslaundry, their anger against sections of the media gained a life of its own when a reporter with Zee Punjabi and his cameraman arrived at Singhu on November 30 to report live on the protest.

“At 1.30 pm, the reporter, Vasu Manchanda, stood near a stage erected to serve langar, or communal meal. He began interviewing some elderly farmers gathered around him. He was promptly shouted down, and, minutes later, chased to the police barricades by the protesters.”

Arshdeep Singh, a farmer who was part of the crowd that chased away Manchanda, said they “threw water” at the reporter while shouting slogans against “Godi media”. This was because he claimed, Manchanda had tried to ask them “leading questions” about the farm laws, which the farmers are protesting against, the report mentioned.

“What is wrong with the media?” the report quoted Arshdeep asking.

“How can you gather a few old and uneducated people and try to grill them on the technicalities of a bill? We know how you will turn things around on us later. We saw it in the last few days.”

Manchanda, however, alleged the farmers threw “hot tea” at him. But Arshdeep’s larger point — of anger on the ground towards the media — has culminated in this outpouring of anger, of posters and slogans, and of farmers refusing to speak to certain news channels. It started when channels like Zee News claimed there was a “Khalistani angle” to the farmers’ agitation.

Quoting farmers, the report said: “The ones calling us Khalistani are the ones who are not Indian themselves.”

“We still want the media to cover out stories. We are simply asking that you report what you see, not what you create,” the report quoted one of the protesting farmer Karandeep Singh, as saying. 

Pertinently, anger against the GoI has been simmering since the month of September when the parliament of India passed three farm laws. From last many days, thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh have been marching toward the New Delhi and are nearing the borders.

After failing to garner support from their respective state governments, the farmers have decided to mount pressure on the GoI, due to which they are coming to Delhi.

In UP and Haryana, BJP led governments have failed to convince farmers, however, governments of Rajasthan and Punjab have extended full support to their agitation.

Farmers want GoI to either withdraw the three legislations or guarantee them the minimum support price (MSP) for their crops by introducing a new law.

Gurnam Singh Chaduni is leading the protestors from Haryana. Gurnam had contested the 2019 Assembly elections from Ladwa constituency in Kurukshetra district, but got only 1,307 votes. However, he was quite active in raising farmers’ issues and led several protests across the state.

Apart from Gurnam, several national and regional farm unions, comprising many leaders, have joined hands under the umbrella banner of Samyukt Kisan Morcha.

As farmers do not accept the three new legislations — The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation); The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance; and Farm Services and The Essential Commodities (Amendment), they believe the laws will open agricultural sale and marketing outside the notified Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) mandis for farmers, remove the barriers to inter-state trade, and provide a framework for electronic trading of agricultural produce.

Since the state governments will not be able to collect market fee, cess or levy for trade outside the APMC markets, farmers believe the laws will gradually end the mandi system and leave farmers at the mercy of corporates.

They are also of the opinion that dismantling the mandi system will bring an end to the assured procurement of their crops at MSP. Similarly, farmers believe the price assurance legislation may offer protection to farmers against price exploitation, but will not prescribe the mechanism for price fixation.

Farmers are demanding the government guarantee MSP in writing, or else the free hand given to private corporate houses will lead to their exploitation.

 

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