Regional media does justice to Bharat bandh coverage

Local news one-ups national media as reporters reach out to agitators and analyse the narrative woven around farmers’ protests.


Successive farmers protests took the country by storm after a nationwide call in September 2020. Following the Delhi Chalo programme on November 26, protests in separate districts rose to a crescendo. Farmers formed a united front against the central government and their three agriculture laws. Indian farmers received accolades from across the country and also  internationally.

Foreign media houses like the BBC News, the Al Jazeera and the Washington Post focused on farmers as the driving force of nationwide protests. In India, this was mirrored by local and regional-language news rather than national media houses. English and regional language dailies, online news websites and independent journalists covered agitations from Kashmir to Tamil Nadu.

In northern India, the Punjab and Chandigarh Journalists Union (PCJU) expressed solidarity with farmers’ agitation against the three anti-farmer-dubbed Acts of the central government On December 7. The PCJU and its Chandigarh Chapter answered the call given by the Tribune Employees Union and participated in the December 8 protests.

YouTube and Facebook news channel the Lallantop, extensively covered farmers’ issues at the ground level. A Hindi news channel based in Delhi, its reporters interviewed Tamil protesting farmers at the Singhu border on December 10, addressing the myth that protests are restricted to Punjab and Haryana. Earlier, they also interviewed other forms of misinterpretation regarding farmers’ protest.

Another online media website Bharat 9 based in Haryana also covered farmers protest in Delhi against the three agriculture laws – the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, the Farmers Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act.

Bihar’s local Hindi newspaper Sitamarhi Jagran and Madhya Pradesh’s Hindi daily newspaper Dainik Bhaskar dedicated entire page-spreads to farmers’ protest. Dainik Bhaskar’s Marathi counterpart Dainik Divya Marathi covered local protests in Jalgaon and Dhule districts of Maharashtra.




Similarly, the Lokmat newspaper covered farmers’ protest in the first four pages of its December 9 edition. Focusing primarily on Mumbai, the daily talked about city-wide protests that made their point without hindering daily life of citizens. Similarly, another Marathi daily Navbharat covered Bharat bandh as the front-page story under the title “Country said ‘Jai Kisan.’”



Towards north-eastern India, a Bengali YouTube channel called Swaraj Barta sent its reporters to walk alongside protesters during nationwide protests. Local Bangla newspaper Anandabazar Patrika talked about the impact of the Bharat bandh in Howrah, Murshidabad, Jhargram, West Midnapore and other districts of West Bengal.

Greater Kashmir covered pro-farmers’ protest in Kashmir on their YouTube Channel during Tuesday protests.

Assam’s English daily newspaper The Sentinel also covered Bharat bandh in Sarupathar city of Assam adding that locals supported farmers’ demands for withdrawal of the three laws.

Meanwhile in southern India, The Hands India, an English daily newspaper circulated in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, talked about peaceful farmers’ protests in Telangana that were backed by government support.


A Telugu newspaper Nava Telangana also covered agitations observed by Trade Unions in support of farmers.




Even English news website The News Minute based in Bangalore talked about persevering farmers’ protest in cities like Bangalore and Hyderabad following the Bharat bandh.

Meanwhile, news website The Logical Indian took a different approach focusing on debunking all the fake news and myths that were propagated by right-wing media during protests. Another website the Webdunia that reports in eight different languages has made a separate section called ‘Krishi Andolan’ in its Hindi version.

This barely exhaustive list of media coverage becomes even lengthier when independent journalists covering farmers’ issues are considered.

Satirist Akash Banerjee has published multiple videos on his YouTube Channel analysing farmers’ protest and farmers’ demands. One of his recent videos talks about the government claim that farmers are being ‘misled.’


Similarly, renowned journalist Faye D’Souza who recently started her own YouTube channel interviewed farmers’ leader Avik Saha and popular journalist P. Sainath much before protests began. Earlier she talked to a reporter from Gaon Connection news website who disclosed that while the majority of farmers opposed the laws, some of them were ignorant of the policies the Acts entailed.


Incidentally, Gaon Connection was among the first news media houses to cover farmers’ protest on-ground.

Further, photojournalist Vijay Pandey travelled to the Singhu border to document the everyday life of protesting farmers living in and around their trucks.





On the other hand, national news channels like Times Now and Republic TV claimed that Bharat Bandh had had virtually no impact. The latter, launched by BJP Rajya Sabha members Rajiv Chandrasekhar and Arnab Goswami in 2017, has often been accused of pro-government and right-wing news coverage.

While NDTV channel covered farmers’ protest, their primetime slot focused on talks between farmers’ leaders and Union Home Minister Amit Shah. The Indian Express also focused on the protests in terms of politics. India Today and The Hindu did a comparatively better job of reaching out to farmers and voicing their grievances.

However, in terms of understanding the essence of these protests, local media has done a commendable job. Farmers are cognisant of this fact as many have tied placards barring ‘Godi-media’ from entering their protest areas.

godi media

During the last press conference at Singhu border, farmers’ leaders thanked local media for voicing farmers’ issues and encouraged them to uncover the unethical manners of ‘Godi-media.’

Regardless of the consequences of the farmers’ unrest, local news houses have proved their mettle by living up to the standards expected from the ‘Fourth Estate’.


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