Sandeep Singh: Punjabi Media Boycotted Farm Unions Over Numerous Grievances
A meeting was held between the journalists and SKM on March 31 at Kajaria Tiles, in which the Punjabi media lifted the boycott
April 1, 2021 | 2.5 min. read
Earlier this week, on March 30, Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) shared a press conference invitation within a WhatsApp group of Punjabi journalists. Journalists, one by one, responded that they would instead be boycotting the conference due to ongoing grievances with the unions and their behaviour towards them. The press conference, which was scheduled for 5:30 PM that day, was canceled five minutes before the scheduled time.
This is not the first time Punjabi media has boycotted SKM. In fact, this is now the third time such action has been taken.
Since the onset of the Farmers’ Protest, Punjabi media has played a critical role in sharing unfiltered ground realities. Regional media in Punjab and Haryana has also been effective in replying to government and national media disinformation with unbiased coverage.
A meeting was held between the journalists and SKM on March 31 at Kajaria Tiles, in which the Punjabi media lifted the boycott. Farm leaders have assured journalists that the grievances raised will be addressed. After this meeting the canceled press conference was finally held, where it was announced there would be a march to India’s Parliament next month.
Jasveer Singh, from KTV, shares a common complaint regarding the inaccessibility of farm leaders. “When there were ups and downs in the farmer’s struggle, big farm leaders refused to address questions from journalists,” he said.
He also shared that the attitude of one major farm leader, in particular, triggered a lot of complaints. “Media’s job is to ask the question and hold the leaders accountable. Many farm leaders respect us, some don’t.”
Talking about the boycott, Jasveer Singh added, “We had boycotted farm leaders entirely. We did not interview them one-on-one and we did not cover their press conferences. Many Punjabi journalists boycotted farm leaders for Holla Mohalla and the rallies held by them after March 26.”
According to Jasveer Singh, the Punjabi media has asked at least 1,200 questions after Bharat Bandh, but not a single farm leader tried to address their concerns.
One journalist shared that approximately a month ago a Punjabi female journalist had fainted at the protest site. However, instead of offering her water or assistance some farm union volunteers laughed at her condition and started recording a video. This had triggered a boycott at that time as well.
While he is frustrated with the current state of affairs, Jasveer Singh shared that Dr. Darshanpal has promised that he will address grievances from journalists.
Mandeep Singh, from Sikh Channel, shared how concerns about safety have also gone unanswered.
“Journalists were unhappy with management about security at night, however, we were told by the farm unions that we are on our own. Then a senior journalist was abused at Kundli Manesar and Palwal Expressway (KMP), which was blocked for the recent Bharat Bandh. A leader left in the middle of an interview with me when I had asked about this concern.”
Ravi Sangtar, from D5 Channel, has noticed a shift in how farm unions initially engaged journalists and how it has since deteriorated.
“At the onset of the movement, farm unions used to respect journalists and answer our phone calls. But now some have started ignoring the media altogether. Apart from this, we had told farm leaders that volunteers should treat us with some decorum. Their volunteers have grown arrogant as if they run the world,” he said.
Farm leaders not answering important questions on topics deemed important by Punjabis across the world is what journalists express the most frustration with.
“I was about to ask a farm leader tough questions, but he told me that he won’t answer questions regarding Lakha Sidhana,” added Sangtar.
Sandeep Singh hails from Machhiwara, Punjab. As an independent journalist, he has worked with many prominent Indian news organizations. Sandeep has been following the farmer’s protest in Punjab since its onset and traveled with them to Delhi. He spends most of his time at the Singhu border protest site. You can follow Sandeep on Twitter @Punyaab
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