Reporters Without Orders Ep 152: Republic Day tractor rally
In this episode, host Snigdha Sharma is joined by Newslaundry correspondents, Nidhi Suresh and Basant Kumar, along with producer Aditya Varrier to discuss their experiences while reporting from the farmers’ tractor rally on Republic Day.
Nidhi, Basant, and Aditya begin with a chronological lowdown of how events unfolded on January 26. Nidhi describes the confusion on the ground succinctly when she says, “ We were receiving news on social media that tear gas shelling has started but protestors on ground were still appealing to the larger group to maintain peace.” Having been to the protest over five times, Aditya talks about the changing geography of the protest sites over time, and new developments such as markets and museums.
Basant, meanwhile, highlights the ineptitude of the Delhi police saying, “Police preparedness on the Delhi borders was marked by just a few barricades.” He also describes the events that led to the first direct violent interaction between the police and the protestors. He witnessed the clashes unfold first-hand as tractors rammed into barricades.
He also shares his account of the violence at the Red fort where journalists were attacked and police and protestors were injured. While doing so Basant reaffirms that Indian flag was not insulted in any way whatsoever.
For Nidhi the change in the nature of the tractor rally was simple but unpredictable as she navigated through it. She expresses how, given the size of the rally, it was unfair to expect protestors to have consensus on all aspects of the protest. However, the panel agreed that while the violence was condemnable, it cannot be a metric to delegitimise the demands of the farmers.
The panel also discusses the circumstances and consequences of the death of a protestor at Delhi’s ITO, the lack of responsibility amongst stakeholders, and the future of the farmer protest.
All this and a lot more as they talk about what made news this week, what didn’t, and what shouldn’t have.
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