Farmers’ protest: A case of malicious reporting

Lalit Shastri

A story by Reuters with the title “U.S. calls for dialogue to resolve India’s farmers’ protests” apparently has a tilt and agenda. It sweeps under carpet the fact that there was extreme violence perpetuated by farmers at the Red Fort on Republic Day. It would be an understatement to say: “some protesters clashed with police in the heart of the capital city following a military parade to mark Republic Day.”

It is factually wrong to say the clash was after the military parade on Republic Day. What needs to be brought on record is that the protesters had broken their written agreement with police and they had gone berserk as they breached the barricades and bulldozed the security cordon riding their tractors on the route to Red Fort, against what had been agreed upon and that too much before the time allotted to the farmers for their tractor parade. Information already available with the authorities has established that all this was part of an international conspiracy by vested interest groups.

The report in question points to multiple round of talks between the Government and farmers adding “no talks have been held since Jan 26., when some protesters clashed with police in the heart of the capital city following a military parade to mark Republic Day, and no indication has been given of when they might resume.” This gives the impression as if the Government is rigid and has closed the doors for talks at least for now but this is not the case.

The report by Reuters points to the “general support” by the US for the (Indian) government’s efforts to “improve the efficiency of India’s markets and attract greater private sector investment” as conveyed by the Embassy of US in New Delhi in a letter to the Government of India. The US has even sermonised by stating “We encourage that any differences between the parties be resolved through dialogue.” This after 11 rounds of talks the Government has had with the farmers’ representatives, who want nothing less than total abrogation of the new farm laws passed by both Houses of Parliament.

The American interference in the form of the advice for dialogue comes after the Modi Government has already announced that it is ready to put on hold the implementation of the new laws for as long as 18 months and the PM has even told the striking farmers, who have disrupted the normal life of citizens residing near the Delhi border, that he is just a phone call away. The farmers sitting on protest are adamant and have failed to respond to this gesture. Instead, they have called for a nationwide strike (Bandh) on 6 February.

In sharp contrast, check this for what could be described as objective or a balanced piece of reporting

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