In another commentary on the deteriorating Freedom of Speech in the country, the Indian government moves video-sharing platform YouTube to weaponise media against protesting farmers. As protests continue, the government turns to control instead of constructive negotiations, reports SAIKEERTHI.
YouTube, the popular video-sharing platform has taken down music videos related to the ongoing farmers’ protests in India. These include the tracks ‘Ailaan’ by Punjabi singer Kanwar Grewal and ‘Asi Vaddange’ by Himmat Sandhu.
‘Ailaan’ is a song that recently became an anthem for the protesters. The song’s lyrics echo the need to give farmers’ the ability to choose what becomes of their harvest. The music video had surpassed over ten million views on YouTube.
‘Asi Vaddange’ had become a popular song during the farmers’ protests as well. The message of the song calls out the brutality committed by the government on the protesting farmers. It called for loyalists to come out and protest rather than work on their fields.
This song had garnered over thirteen million views at the time of its deletion by the video-sharing platform.
According to reports, the move was initiated by the central government. The songs were categorised as “songs of resistance” and legal complaints were filed against it by the government.
Bharatiya Kisan Union’s (Ekta Ugrahan) State Secretary Shingara Singh Mann reacted to this move by the popular platform. He stated that though the government can try and remove these songs from YouTube, they cannot erase it from the hearts of the people.
Since September 25th, 2020, many Indian celebrities had come out in support of the farmers. Various singers had released songs that voiced out support for the protesting farmers. Many of these songs and videos are increasingly being shared on social media and played at various protest sites across the country.
YouTube is yet to provide an official statement regarding this move and possible reasons on why it was sanctioned.
This step taken by the government comes days after a similar move was initiated on the micro-blogging platform, Twitter. The government had asked Twitter to withhold accounts of many journalists and news platforms covering the protests as well as key participants. However, due to rising criticisms from the citizens, the government had reportedly withdrawn their decision.
(Saikeerthi is a journalism student at the Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication and an intern with The Leaflet.)