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NewsClick FIR Copies Burnt in SKM’s Protest Against Govt bid to ‘Malign’ Farmer’s Movement

Farmers sought the release of arrested NewsClick persons and said the FIR had “intent to not only intimidate journalists reporting people’s movements but also malign the historic farmers’ movement”.
SKM Newsclick FIR

In a pan-India protest by SKM, farmers burnt copies of the FIR against Newsclick that 'maligned' the farmer's movement against the three farm laws.

New Delhi: After intense campaign for the past five days, the constituent organisations of Samyukta Kisan Morcha, the farmers’ collective, on Monday burnt the copies of First Information Report (FIR) against NewsClick Editor-in-Chief Prabir Purkayastha and Human Resources Head Amit Chakravarty in a nationwide protest. The participants alleged that the FIR was lodged with the intent to not only intimidate the journalists reporting people’s movements but also malign the historic farmers’ movement on the borders of the national capital. 

The movement was aimed at repealing the three farm laws which farmers believed would eliminate government procurement markets, promoted hoarding of essential commodities and imposed contract farming. The protests were observed in major cities of Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh.

Jagtar Singh Bajwa from Bhoomi Bachao Muhim, who led the protest in Bazpur in Udham Singh Nagar district of Uttarakhand, told NewsClick over phone that the Union government led by Bharatiya Janata Party wished to malign the legacy of the farmers movement.

“There is no doubt that the FIR is a signal to all non-partisan journalists and the kind of submission it wants from them ahead of 2024 general elections. However, we must be cautious that it wants to malign the legacy of farmers movement in a sense that people should remember the struggle in a poor light. This suspicion would provide further ground for other laws aimed at corporatisation of the agriculture”, he said.

He said people were slowly becoming aware about the latest assault after the news channels favoured by the ruling party maintained a deafening silence on persecution of journalists. “We had organised six meetings in the district alone before today’s protest. Our farmers are very enraged over the treatment. We will intensify the movement only until journalists are freed,” he added.

Ram Kailash Kushwaha, district president, All India Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan who protested with other farmers in Zari Mandi in Prayagraj of Uttar Pradesh, said farmers organisations were organising meetings in village panchayat and it was clear now that people in rural areas are less aware about the issue. However, people are coming for protests. “We are opposing the FIR because it is aimed at decimating the possibilities of future farmers’ movements. The government wants to distract the attention of the people so that they do not think about their consistent oppression and penury,” he added.

In a statement, Vijoo Krishnan, general secretary, All India Kisan Sabha, said that the government's false allegations aimed at undermining the historic farmers' movement have been widely rejected. 

He said “the FIR against Newsclick baselessly accused the farmers' movement of being anti-national and funded by foreign and terrorist forces. This was a deliberate attempt to discredit the committed and patriotic farmers' struggle. The farmers, inspired by historical movements, saw through the deceitful agenda behind the three farm laws, designed to hand over control of farming, mandis, and food distribution to corporate giants.

As a mark of protest, the FIR filed against Newsclick was symbolically burnt in the demonstrations. These protests were not limited to one region but took place across several states, including Haryana, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Tripura, West Bengal, and others.

Krishnan went on to add that the demand to release Purkayastha and Chakraborty “unjustly jailed under the draconian UAPA” will be pressed on during the November 26-28 campaign and protest, underscoring our commitment to freedom of media.

“These protests will include a 72-hour day-and-night sit-in struggle before all the Raj Bhawan at state capitals, organized with massive participation of farmers and workers, who will unite under the joint banner of the central trade unions' platform and SKM,” the AIKS leader said.

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