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The Party for Socialism and Liberation joins with progressive organizations and media around the world in demanding that the Indian government cease its repression of leading media outlet Newsclick. Newsclick is read and watched by millions every day and is facing persecution for the key role it plays providing independent coverage of people’s movements, especially the massive farmers’ struggle that poses an existential threat to the far right government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Police raided Newsclick’s headquarters in New Delhi yesterday, and also targeted the personal homes of their staff. The obvious intent of the government was for the raids to have a chilling effect not only on Newsclick but on all independent media organizations that dare to tell the truth about the struggle of poor and working people.
As part of its long-standing efforts to eviscerate social rights, the Modi government proposed a series of new laws last year that would further open up the agricultural sector to the domination of big corporations. The bills seek to deregulate transactions between farmers and agribusiness in a manner that paves the way for the revocation of the Minimum Support Prices that are critical to the livelihoods of farmers in India.
The anti-farmer bills have sparked one of the most profound social movements in India’s history. After momentum built across the country, hundreds of thousands of farmers converged on the outskirts of the capital city in November, setting up camps that blocked the key roads to Delhi. This movement has also set other sections of society into motion and galvanized a general strike of a quarter of a billion people on November 26. Newsclick has earned a very large readership by providing credible and independent coverage of these dramatic developments.
Police repression against the farmers’ movement has always been fierce, and has intensified in the last two weeks. Serious charges have been filed against farmer activists, police have set up heavy fortifications surrounding the protest camps, and the Modi government has stepped up their slander against the movement. The attack on Newsclick is part and parcel of this campaign of suppression — it must end immediately!