The Samyukt Kisan Morcha, an umbrella group of nearly 40 farmers’ unions, on Sunday announced nationwide agitations against claims made about the farmer protests in a first information report filed by the Delhi Police against NewsClick, reported The Indian Express.

Thousands of farmers staged demonstrations in 2020 against the three farm laws that the Centre claimed was aimed at deregulating agricultural markets. The laws were withdrawn by Parliament on November 29, 2021, after over a year of protests.

In the FIR registered against NewsClick in August, the Delhi Police have alleged that the farmers’ agitation was funded and supported by the news website to cause losses worth several hundred crore rupees to the Indian economy and create internal law and order problems.

The FIR has invoked several sections of India’s stringent anti-terror law, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, by framing the farmers’ agitation as a terrorist act that was meant to disrupt essential services, cause the destruction of property, hurt the Indian economy and create law and order problems.

On Sunday, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha in a statement categorically rejected the “scurrilous and malafide allegations” against the farmers’ movement. The charges are “false and politically motivated”, the association said.

“No supply was disrupted by the farmers,” the statement added, reported The Hindu. “No property was damaged by the farmers. No loss to the economy was caused by farmers. No law and order problem was created by the farmers. By violently stopping the farmers from exercising their democratic right of reaching the nation’s capital, through barbed wire fencing, water cannons, lathi charge and digging up roads, it is the Union government that caused great inconvenience to the people of the nation and the farmers.”

The unions also accused the Central government of conspiring with crony capitalists and alleged that funds from China had been received by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the PM Cares Fund and industrialist Gautam Adani for his business.

Alleging that the FIR was an attempt to craft an anti-farmer narrative, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha said that it will hold mass protests in every state capital for immediate withdrawal of the charges against the farmers’ movement.

The All India Kisan Sabha also took out a rally on Monday to extend their support to NewsClick in Haryana’s Rohtak.

NewsClick has been accused of conspiring “to disrupt sovereignty and territorial integrity of India” by accepting illegal foreign funds over five years. The news organisation’s editor-in-chief Prabir Purkayastha and human resources head Amit Chakraborty were arrested by the Delhi Police on October 3.

They were booked under the country’s anti-terror law after The New York Times alleged in an August 5 report that the Indian news website had received money from American businessman Neville Roy Singham, who worked closely with the “Chinese government media machine” to spread its propaganda.

NewsClick, whose office was sealed after raids on October 3, has maintained that it does not take directions from Singham about the content published on its website. The news organisation has argued that the case filed against it under the anti-terror law shows the Indian government’s intent to treat criticism as sedition or “anti-national” propaganda.

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