Members of the South Asian media fraternity came together on Monday, February 1, outside Indian visa and passport center in Surrey, to raise their voices against suppression of the free press in the world’s so called largest democracy.
Organized by the Punjabi Press Club of British Columbia, the rally was called in response to the recent arrests of Indian journalists covering the ongoing farmers’ agitation and the slapping of fabricated charges against media persons by the police.
The participants raised slogans against injustice, and held placards and signs denouncing the lapdog media of India, which is feeding false information against the protesting farmers to discredit them at the behest of those in power.
They unanimously passed resolutions read out on the occasion by the former President of the Club, Gurvinder Singh Dhaliwal. These resolutions called for an unconditional release of those arrested and revocation of criminal cases against other journalists, as well as immediate international intervention into the matter by the Canadian government and United Nations, and scrapping of draconian laws being used to terrorise political dissidents and journalists.
The farmers are camping near the Indian capital of New Delhi for the past few months to protest against the controversial laws passed by the right wing Hindu nationalist government, as part of their agenda to put agro-industry in the hands of corporate control, which many believe will adversely affect the livelihood of tillers and marginal farmers.
However, the lapdog media has frequently branded the protesting farmers as “extremists” and “anti-nationals”. This is despite the fact that the agitators have come under vicious attack from right wing goons and the police, who have been trying to chase them away from the protest sites.
Journalists who have tried to uncover such high handedness are facing constant backlash and seditious charges. Some have been detained on trumped up charges for merely doing their duty with objectivity.
Those who spoke on the occasion included the club President Navjot Kaur Dhillon, vice president Gurpreet Singh and other members – Khuspal Gill, Harkirat Singh Kular and Amarpal Singh.
Others who spoke on the occasion as community allies were Parminder Kaur Swaich, Harbir Singh Rathi and Kuljinder Singh Gill.