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DUJ Protests Freezing of Media Accounts, Calls for Press Freedom

Gaon Savera, which amplifies the concerns of farmers, found its Facebook and X accounts frozen under the directive of the Government of India ahead of National Convention for workers and farmers slated for August 24.
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Image Courtesy: Twitter

New Delhi: The Delhi Union of Journalists (DUJ) has strongly condemned recent actions aimed at suppressing media voices across various regions of India. In a press release issued today, the DUJ raised concerns about the stifling of free press and called for an end to arbitrary measures that threaten journalistic freedom and democratic values.

This week, a prominent digital media platform known as Gaon Savera, which amplifies the concerns of farmers, found its Facebook and X (formerly Twitter) accounts frozen under the directive of the Government of India. The move comes amidst ongoing farmer protests in Haryana and Punjab and ahead of a national convention for workers and peasants scheduled for August 24 in Delhi.

Gaon Savera, a multimedia outlet, is spearheaded by Mandeep Punia, a young journalist previously arrested for covering the farmers' protests at the Tikri, Singhu, and Ghazipur borders of Delhi. The platform highlights news and perspectives related to rural life and agriculture.

The DUJ expressed dismay over the mainstream media's relative silence regarding the farmer demonstrations and their demands. It noted that even independent platforms like Gaon Savera, which take a pro-farmer and pro-people stance, are now facing targeted actions. Alongside Gaon Savera, social media accounts belonging to numerous farmer leaders have also been subjected to freezes.

In a parallel development, the DUJ also highlighted the recent freezing of The Kashmir Walla's website and social media accounts, a news portal based in Srinagar. The portal's editor, Fahad Shah, was arrested in February 2022 under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and remains incarcerated. A former trainee reporter, Sajad Gul, is imprisoned in Uttar Pradesh.

The DUJ noted a concerning trend where governments, both at the state and central levels, resort to shutting down news portals, YouTube channels, and social media accounts as a means of control. Prolonged internet shutdowns, such as those witnessed in Manipur and Kashmir, are becoming increasingly common. India's reputation as the world's leader in deliberate internet disruptions has been growing, which the DUJ sees as detrimental to both press freedom and the principles of democracy.

The Delhi Union of Journalists has unequivocally called for an immediate end to arbitrary practices that significantly threaten free media and democratic values.

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