‘THE CENTRE of Indian Trade Unions vehemently denounces the utterly humiliating and derogatory statement by the Prime Minister against the struggling farmers and their supporters on the floor of Parliament,’ said CITU General Secretary Tapan Sen in a major statement last week.
He continued: ‘The Prime Minister called the struggling farmers demanding repeal of the draconian farm laws and Electricity Amendment Bill 2020 “Andolan-jeevi” (beggars movement) influenced by “Foreign Destructive Ideology” (FDI).
‘Unnerved by the growing support for the farmers’ demands and their determined struggle to achieve their just demands the Prime Minister has resorted to ridiculing “andolan” itself, the basic right of the people in India and the pillar of a democratic society.
‘True to the traditions of our Independence struggle against the British, the farmers have been peacefully protesting against the farm laws that threaten to snatch away their land and livelihood.
‘The Prime Minister’s intolerance obviously stems from the philosophy of RSS (Hindu nationalist) having no role in the Independence struggle and its abject surrender before British imperialism.
‘Today his government has surrendered itself to the interests of the big corporates, domestic and foreign.
‘Today the Prime Minister is heading a “corporate jeevi” government that treats the farmers, producing food for the country and its people, as enemies, just to serve the profit greedy parasitic corporate class. To call the farmers “parajeevis” (parasites) is the height of shamelessness.
‘Such abuses of the farmers as being “Khalistanis”, “anti nationals”, “terrorists” etc, lies of the movement being confined to only one state, and being “misled” have all failed. The latest desperate attempt to deride the protests is sure to fail.
‘CITU strongly condemns all these attempts of the ruling BJP and its leaders for the naked display of their lack of any respect for democracy and intolerance for dissent and protests.
‘Such authoritarian and abusive approach in fact stems from the ideology of Hitler and Mussolini, the most destructive and disastrous ideology the country has ever seen.
‘It asserts that it is the BJP government that is responsible for the rising tides of protests, not only from the farmers but the workers and other sections of toiling people as well.
‘CITU demands that the government should immediately repeal the three farm laws, withdraw the Electricity Amendment Bill and also scrap the anti-worker labour codes immediately and stop abusing and humiliating the people raising their voices. Otherwise “andolans” will only increase.’
- The UFCW (United Food and Commercial Workers) Canada has sent a message of support to its Indian comrades, saying that it proudly stands in support of Kissans and farm workers across India.
The UFCW is a labour union made up of 1.3 million working men and women across the USA and Canada.
Over the past few months, Kissans, farm workers, journalists, and supporters across India, including trade union activists, such as Nodeep Kaur, have been abducted and aggressively assaulted for simply exercising their rights.
They have been protesting against three new bills that the government passed undemocratically, which aim to deregulate farming and will effectively crush marginal farmers, known as Kissans.
Additionally, the new farm laws will steer farm workers into greater poverty.
Even with guaranteed crop prices, farm workers were already unable to earn fair and living wages for their labour.
In fact, the reforms will impede farm workers’ ability to exercise their right to freedom of association and further violate international labour standards that India has committed to as a member of the International Labour Organisation.
In response to the demonstrations, state police instigated violent attacks against protesters.
Kissans, journalists, and union activists who have been abducted by police are being tortured and sexually assaulted in prisons.
The Indian government has since introduced internet blackouts and social media crackdowns to prevent journalists from covering the events.
UFCW Canada stands united with national and international labour advocates, such as the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tourism, Tobacco, and Allied Workers’ Association (IUF), for progressive agricultural reforms in India that also protects the rights of farm and migrant farm workers’ rights in the country.
As an organisation advocating for food workers’ rights, we denounce the violent attacks against protesters and adamantly express our support for Kissans and farm workers in India and their collective and urgent calls for justice.
- At least nine journalists have been targeted by police by arrests, intimidation and criminal charges over reporting and online posts about the ongoing farmers’ protest in India since protests began in November 2020.
The protests reached a climax on January 26, with death of protester Navreet Singh.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its Indian affiliate Indian Journalists Union (IJU) condemn the tactics used to suppress media.
In the latest of a series of targeted attacks against journalists, Delhi police detained freelance journalist Mandeep Punia at a Singhu border protest site on January 30 on charges of trying to break barricades and fighting with police.
He was charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (including articles 186, 353, 332 and 34). Police confiscated his camera and deleted all the records.
Online News India journalist Dharmender Singh was arrested the same day from a farmers’ protest in Sindhu protest site and released on January 31, 2021. The contents of his camera were also deleted.
Seven other journalists have also been charged for reporting on the protests, including six charged with sedition for reporting or sharing news about the farmers protest, particularly related to the death of protester Navreet Singh on January 29.
Singh’s family claims his death was caused by a police bullet, while Delhi police claim he died as a result of a tractor accident.
Journalists who reported or shared the news against the police claim were charged under various draconian laws.
Police in Uttar Pradesh’s Rampur district registered a first information report (FIR) against The Wire’s founding editor Siddharth Varadarajan on January 31 accusing him of sharing inaccurate posts on Twitter about the incident and charging him under Sections 153-B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national-integration) and 505(2) (statements conducing to public mischief) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Similarly, journalists have been charged with sedition for reporting or sharing allegedly unverified news during the farmers’ tractor rally in New Delhi.
These include Rajdeep Sardesai, a prominent anchor on India Today, Mrinal Pande, of National Herald; Zafar Agha, of Qaumi Awaz; Paresh Nath, Anant Nath, and Vinod K. Jose of The Caravan.
Most of the FIRs against the media allege the accused tried to provoke the protesters for their political and personal gain by spreading false and misleading information online.
Hundreds of thousands of farmers have protested on the outskirts of Delhi since November 2020 demanding the withdrawal of a series of agricultural laws introduced in September 2020.
The president of the Indian Journalists Union (IJU), Geetartha Pathak, said: ‘India has a worsening track record of intimidating journalists misusing the sedition and other draconian laws.
‘The IJU has long been advocating against such a misuse of law. We urge the Indian government to withdraw the cases against all nine journalists and ensure their safety.’
The IFJ said: ‘Arresting, intimidating and lodging complaints against journalists for their news reports and their online post is a blatant misuse of power and law against journalists.
‘The IFJ urges the Indian government to withdraw the criminal – charges against all nine journalists and ensure that such the misuse of power and law will not be repeated in future.’