Protesting farmers never treated badly; ‘Toronto Star’ fabrications exposed
The daily heaps praise on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for speaking out against the treatment of protesting farmers in India by police
As a populous country, India has a vibrant democracy with a strong legislative and judicial system to cater to individual aspiration for growth and progress, free from any biases and prejudice. But Toronto Star, the Canadian daily, seems to have overlooked this fact and has indulged in the laceration of India and its government on the farmers’ issue.
In its write up on December 4, the daily heaps praise on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for speaking out against the treatment of protesting farmers in India by police. It quotes an expert as saying that “Canada will always be there to defend the right of peaceful protest.” The daily also says the protests against new agricultural laws have lasted nearly two months in India but gained national attention recently when thousands of farmers clashed with police who used tear gas, water cannons and baton charges against them as they tried to enter India’s capital, New Delhi.
The question is: When were protesting farmers from India’s Punjab and Haryana treated badly? When were their rights to hold peaceful protest infringed upon?
Almost two weeks have passed since farmers from these two prosperous states are camping at Delhi's borders. Their protest has meant that roads leading to key working hubs in the National Capital Region (NCR) are choked with standing tractors, SUVs, buses and trucks of these farmers. On December 8, they even called for a ‘Bharat Bandh.’ Yet no media report suggested any clash between police and protesting farmers.
However, it is true that police used necessary minimum force on November 27 when protesting farmers had turned violent while entering Delhi where a large public gathering is prohibited due to the Covid-19 pandemic. They had damaged two government vehicles and one private bus. They had also attacked four police personnel. It was in this situation, police had resorted to the use of tear gas or water cannons.
Further, unjustifiably heaping scorn at India, the Canadian daily, quotes Chinnaiah Jangam, identified as historian of modern South Asia at Carleton University, as saying that “The Canadian public is ignorant about what’s happening in India. Ottawa hasn’t spoken out for people who are oppressed in India.”
In contrast to what he has said to the daily, the truth is India is home to 130 crore people who have never been discriminated on caste, creed, religious and faith lines either in the distribution of welfare benefits, offering of houses or land or jobs in the government departments.
This is the only country in the South Asian region, which is working hard for the betterment of minority community members. Today, development programmes for Muslims and other minority community members have been expanded to 308 districts, 870 blocks and 331 towns and thousands of the villages across the country. In the past six years, 1,527 new school buildings, 22877 additional class rooms, 646 hostels, 163 residential schools, 9,217 smart class rooms, 32 colleges, 95 ITIs, 13 polytechnics, 6 navodaya vidyalayas, 403 multi-purpose community centres, 574 market sheds, 2482 toilet and water facilities, 140 common service centres, 22 working women hostels, 1926 health projects, 5 hospitals, 8 hunar hubs, 14 various sports facilities and 6014 anganwadi centres.
The Canadian daily again levels baseless charges when it says under Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the government has pushed for laws and policies that have the potential to render millions of Muslims living in India stateless. It says the government also imposed a military clampdown on part of the majority Muslim region of Kashmir, arresting thousands of dissidents and local leaders.
Here, Toronto Star hints towards the Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019 and withdrawal of autonomous status granted to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370. First of all, the Act seeks to provide citizenship to persecuted minorities such as Hindu, Sikh, Parsi, Buddhist and Christians from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. In fact, this Act aims to provide citizenship and not debarring one of his citizenship as has been rumoured by some misguided people and media outlets.
Several times, the government has cleared the air by saying that no Muslim citizen of the country will be declared stateless, yet a negative narrative has been woven around CAA.
Besides, the Canadian daily needs to avoid preparing a news report based on hearsay. With regards to Kashmir, it should know that there is no military clampdown in the valley, nor are local leaders under detention now. Former Jammu and Kashmir chief ministers Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti are moving freely across the Union Territory. Rather the political parties they represent are participating in the ongoing District Development Council (DDC) elections in the Union Territory.