Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, December 20
The social media accounts of the joint forum of farmers were blocked on Sunday evening, within a few hours of a live press conference broadcast through their Facebook handle. As the issue snowballed into an embarrassing controversy, the pages were unblocked after two hours.
Farmer union leaders alleged that their Facebook and Instagram handles- started just last week- were blocked this evening, within a few minutes of their press conference. Yogendra Yadav of Swaraj India, who has been at the forefront of the farmers’ agitation, was reportedly doing a live session on Facebook, when the social media handle- Kisan Ekta Morcha- was blocked.
“This once again raises serious questions about the online censorship that this BJP government is indulging in. On one hand, we have the entire hi tech team of the BJP spreading “misinformation” about the farmers protest, and on the other, our social media handles have been blocked,” alleged Dr Darshan Pal, president of Krantikari Kisan Union.
The farmer unions had launched their social media accounts just last week, with a team led by Baljit Singh, handling the operation. The idea, say leaders, was to counter the negative narrative spread by the government and to give their side of the story to the masses, explaining why they were protesting.
A number of young farmers, and their friends had launched the official social media account for the farmer unions four days back. Together the two social media platforms have close to seven lakh followers and these are being used by the agitating farmers to broadcast their opinions and announce the next course of action in their ongoing protest.
Baljit Singh, who was heading this IT operation, said it was strange that the pages were blocked without any notification being given by the platforms. “Obviously, the government is behind it. They are scared that our narrative telecast on the social media will clear all misconceptions the government is trying to create in the minds of public,” he alleged.
The move to block the social media handles comes closely after the Income Tax raids on the commission agents of Punjab.