This week the Facebook and X (formerly Twitter) accounts of Gaon Savera, a prominent digital media platform that voices issues of farmers, were frozen on the direction of the Government of India. The decision has been taken amid agitations by farmers in Haryana and Punjab against the policies of the governments and a national convention of workers and peasants to be held in Delhi on August 24.
Gaon Savera is a multi-media outlet run by a young journalist, Mandeep Punia, who in the past was arrested for covering the farmers’ protests in the Tikri, Singhu and Ghazipur borders of Delhi. His media outlet carries news and views on village life and agriculture.
Mainstream media has largely remained silent on the demonstrations by farmers and their demands. Now, even small independent platforms such as Gaon-Savera that takes a pro farmers and pro people stand are being targeted. Along with Gaon Savera, the social media accounts of many farmer leaders have also been frozen.
Meanwhile, three days ago the website and the social media accounts of the Srinagar based news portal The Kashmir Walla were also frozen. Its editor Fahad Shah had already been arrested in February 2022, had been charged under UAPA and languishes in jail. A former trainee reporter Sajad Gul is in a jail in Uttar Pradesh.
Closing down news portals, you tube channels and social media accounts is becoming a common tactic by governments, both in the states and at the centre. Prolonged internet bans, as in Manipur and Kashmir, are also becoming common. India is becoming infamous as the internet shutdown capital of the world, with the largest number of deliberate disruptions of the internet. The Delhi Union of Journalists calls for an end to all such arbitrary practices that bode ill for a free media and democracy.
The DUJ statement has been issued by Sujata Madhok, President, S.K. Pande, Vice President and Jigeesh A.M., General Secretary.