Reporters Without Orders Ep 146: Farmer Protests
In this episode, host Snigdha Sharma is joined by Newslaundry’s Basant Kumar and Anna Priyadarshini.
The conversation hits off with the bizarre news stories, from a fisherman finding the world’s biggest blob of whale vomit worth 2.4 million pounds to a wife of a dead Patiala man receiving a ‘sample-collected’ SMS on her husband’s phone.
The discussion begins with Anna and Ayush’s report on ex-soldiers at the farmer protests denouncing the Naxal jibes at them by Union Minister Piyush Goyal. Last week, the minister had alleged, without evidence, that the ongoing protests against the new farm laws had been infiltrated by “Naxal and Maoist elements”. A section of the media too had claimed the protests had been “hijacked by anti-national forces” and “foreign powers”. The most apt response to the allegations was from a 75-year-old former subedar of the Indian army, Joginder Singh, who said “Narendra Modi and Amit Shah were children when we fought wars for this country. So if they call patriots like me Naxali, then why should we even answer them? It is like mocking a priest about his mantra. Or lecturing a farmer about agriculture, as they’re doing. They should be ashamed of themselves.”
With the fall in Delhi’s temperature and the subsequent rise in the number of deaths associated with the farmer protests, Snigdha moves to Basant’s report. Basant gives the example of Shri Krishnalal, a 65 year-old accountant who died in front of Niranjan Singh Dhola, the Punjab Secretary of Indian Farmers Union (Rajewal). So far, at least 20 people associated with the protests have died.
Based on his interaction with the agitating farmers on the ground, Basant says they are prepared for anything coming their way. He adds, “The farmers don't mind dying. They’ve taken the issue to heart.”
Anna weighs in and says, “When we spoke to these ex-servicemen, they described it as their last war. One of them said, we don’t have anything to lose ‘ab toh jeet ke hi jaana hai.’ That's what they said and that was obviously echoed throughout.”
This and a lot more as they talk about what made news, what didn’t, and what shouldn’t have.
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