If India can charge journalists with ‘sedition’ for doing their jobs, it has no free press | Hartosh Singh Bal

My colleagues reporting on alleged police violence at farmers’ protests have fallen foul of Modi’s government

The protests against farm laws that were hurriedly passed by the Indian government in September pose the most severe challenge to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s authority since he first came to power in 2014. Farmers fear the laws, which the supreme court has now paused, will pave the way for the entry of large corporations into the agricultural market, weakening their ability to negotiate a fair price. Several rounds of talks between farm leaders and government ministers have failed to reach a resolution, so now the government is using the large and visible presence of Sikh farmers to suggest the protests are influenced by religious separatists. In the process it is also coming down hard on the few media organisations that still act independently.

At 4:09pm on 26 January, as more than 100,000 farmers on tractors poured into Delhi, the monthly magazine where I work, the Caravan, tweeted: “Navneet Singh, a 34-year-old farmer protester from Uttarakhand, was shot and killed at ITO [the Income Tax Office area of the city] this afternoon, acc to an eyewitness.” This was followed by more details: “Harmanjit Singh said he was walking alongside a tractor that Navneet was driving when the latter was shot.”

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