Government Cracks Down on Website Covering Farmer Protests in India

Government Cracks Down on Website Covering Farmer Protests in India

The website was forced to remove certain pages after receiving "executive orders" from the Indian government. These orders were met with resistance from the website, which claimed that the government was attempting to silence its journalistic coverage of rural India and infringe on its journalists' livelihoods.

The website's platform clarified that the accounts and posts in question were being restricted in India alone, in accordance with the government's orders. However, the platform expressed disagreement with the government's actions, emphasizing the importance of freedom of expression for these posts.

India's main opposition party, Congress, condemned the government's clampdown on dissenting voices, criticizing its efforts to silence such voices in a democratic society. Several handles on the website also denounced the government's suppression of critical social media posts.

The website revealed that it had legally challenged the government's "blocking orders" without specifying which court had received the petition.

The unrest stems from a strike initiated by several farm unions in India on February 13th. The unions demand floor pricing, or minimum support price, for their crops. Protesters have attempted to march towards Delhi from neighboring states, but their efforts have been obstructed by the authorities, who have barricaded city borders and deployed significant police and paramilitary forces.

Activists have pointed out the political significance of farmers, who constitute a substantial voting bloc in India. The government is eager to avoid a spectacle of protesting farmers on Delhi's roads, particularly with general elections looming in the near future.

Similar protests in 2020 led to months-long demonstrations on the outskirts of Delhi, and the government is keen on preventing a recurrence of such events. Despite multiple rounds of talks between the government and farm unions, a consensus remains elusive. The situation has been further complicated by the tragic death of a 22-year-old protester during a reported standoff with Haryana police. Punjab state authorities have attributed the death to a bullet wound to the head.