Modi Government Restrains Social Media Voices Amidst Ongoing Farmer Protests

Modi Government Restrains Social Media Voices Amidst Ongoing Farmer Protests

March 6, 2024 Off By Sharp Media

In the midst of the persistent farmers’ protests in India, the Narendra Modi-led government has taken a controversial step by withholding approximately 100 X (formerly Twitter) accounts linked to farmer union leaders and advocates of the farmers’ cause. As the protesting Indian farmers prepared to resume their march to Delhi, demanding legally guaranteed minimum support prices (MSP) for crops, pensions for farmers and farm labourers, farm debt waiver, and no increase in electricity tariffs, the government’s move raised concerns about suppressing dissenting voices.

The two umbrella bodies spearheading the farmers’ protests, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) and the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha, have issued a call for farmers across India to join them in Delhi. The protests, led by farmer unions at the Shambhu, Khanauri, and Dabwali borders between Punjab and Haryana, are demanding essential agricultural reforms. However, the government’s actions indicate an attempt to stifle the narrative and restrict the reach of information about the ongoing protests.

In a media interview, Gurpreet Sangha, a prominent farmer union leader, revealed that approximately 100 social media accounts belonging to farmers, farmer union leaders, and supporters of the protest were withheld overnight. Sangha emphasized that this move reflects the government’s reluctance to allow the farmers’ voices to reach the masses, reinforcing the perception that the authorities are unwilling to engage in a dialogue on the merits of the farmers’ demands.

Sangha expressed determination, stating that regardless of their number—be it 100 or 10,000—farmers will converge at Jantar Mantar in Delhi to protest. He clarified that this call is not limited to Punjab and Haryana, asserting that farmers from across the country will actively participate in the organic announcement of the ‘Delhi Chalo’ movement.

This marks the third occasion since the protests began on February 13 that the Indian government has withheld social media accounts. Earlier instances occurred on February 12 and February 21, consistently coinciding with calls for the ‘Delhi Chalo’ movement. Farmer union leaders argue that this pattern reflects a deliberate strategy employed by the Modi government to curb dissenting voices on social media platforms, particularly X, Facebook, and Instagram, whenever there is a call for the mass mobilization of farmers.

As the government continues to tighten its grip on social media accounts associated with the farmers’ movement, concerns about the stifling of free expression and democratic rights intensify. The recurring withholding of accounts reinforces the perception that the Modi government is employing a systematic approach to control the narrative surrounding the farmer protests, raising questions about the state of democratic freedoms in India.