Farmers’ Protest: Journalists Report Entry Restrictions at Singhu
While some had to take alternate routes to reach the protest sites, others were denied entry beyond check points.
As Delhi Police intensified the crackdown at protest sites around the national capital, where several farmers are demonstrating against the Centre’s three farm laws, several journalists, freelance and independent media personnel have reportedly faced restrictions at the Singhu border.
While internet remains suspended at protest sites and measures are being taken by the Delhi Police, the matter came to light after a video of Newslaundary reporter Nidhi Suresh being denied entry at Singhu surfaced.
The video shows a police officer asking Suresh to show her press card at one of the several check points at the Singhu border. Following which, she is barred from going further as it is ‘not a national media authorised press card’.
Speaking to The Quint, Suresh said, “We were walking back from protest when this happened. I heard the police say ‘no more media will be allowed’ just as we were leaving. When I asked if I could go back to the protest, he immediately asked to see my press card.”
“When I asked him what a national media authorised press card is, he just walked away,” Suresh added.
On being asked if this was an official ‘media ban’, the officer who declined to tell his name said, “No, it's not an official ban.”
Till Tuesday morning, Newslaundry’s team was permitted to go to the site of the protest. However, after 26 January, media personnel were asked to show their press cards at 4-5 checkpoints, take a 1.5 km detour, and then enter.
‘Don’t Have Press ID, So They Use Dande’
Sandeep Singh, an independent journalist, also reported that the road leading to the Singhu border was completely sealed and that there were restrictions in place.
Speaking to The Quint, Singh said, “They are not allowing anyone to enter. I had to take a pagdandi (small trail) through the fields to reach the Singhu border. Even at Ghazipur border, I was denied entry.”
“I don’t have an ID, so they use dande (sticks),” he added
On being asked what the cops said about restrictions being imposed, Singh said, “They say they have orders, they don’t have any other answer.”
‘Denied Entry Beyond Check Point’
While the police has employed layers of barricading to prevent entry into the site, no one is allowed to enter on foot either, NDTV reporter Saurabh Shukla claimed on Wednesday.
Shukla reported that he was refused to go past a certain checkpoint at Singhu even after showing his official press ID card. He also claimed that the police doesn’t want any more images of cemented walls, iron nails and rods to be circulated.
Locals in the video can be seen telling Shukla that they are having to walk 2-2.5 km everyday.
Before the unrest that unfolded at the tractor rally on 26 January, those wanting to visit Singhu border’s main stage at the protest were allowed to go past the barricades put in place to prevent farmers’ entry into Delhi. Media personnel and journalists were allowed to interact with the protestors as well as police officers.
On Monday, security was tightened at the three borders of Delhi where the protests are taking place – Ghazipur, Singhu and Tikri – and barricades, boulders, and barbed wires came up, as additional forces made their way there.
Visuals that emerged from the sites of the protests on Monday showed Delhi Police setting up more barricades and placing iron nails on the ground.
During the ‘Kisan Gantantra Parade’ in the national capital on 26 January, clashes broke out in several parts of the capital, including the Red Fort and ITO area. Many police personnel and protesters were injured in the clashes, that also led to the death of one protester.
(With inputs from Newslaundry, IANS and NDTV)
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