India: Farmers' protests subside to new independent journalism

India: Farmers’ protests subside to new independent journalism

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A small structure made from wood and sheets of tarpaulin sits within the middle of thousands of tractors and trolleys, stationed along the outskirts of latest Delhi by protesting farmers.

The tent, which sits under a Delhi metro pillar, is the Shaheed Bhagat Singh library and therefore the headquarters of the Trolley Times, a grassroots newspaper travel by alittle group of volunteers.

“We strive to bridge the gap between the bottom reality at protest sites and therefore the politically motivated narratives peddled by mainstream media outlets within the country,” a Trolley Times editor told DW.

Founded by a photojournalist, physiotherapist and a screenwriter, the newspaper arose from the necessity to supply stories from India’s massive farmers’ protests.Why are farmers protesting?
In September 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government passed three controversial agriculture bills aimed toward liberalizing India’s farming sector. While the laws were hailed as a watershed moment by the govt , some farmers say the new legislation leaves them at the mercy of corporations.

After months of holding sit-ins in their home states, thousands of farmers marched to New Delhi following a nationwide strike on November 26. Over subsequent three months, they braved the cold and rain in temporary shelters outside of the capital .Space for independent journalists
No one anticipated how large the protests would be. An old farmer told the founders: “We aren’t getting to understand what happens on the stage, what decisions are taken by the leaders.”

One of them joked, “What can we do about this? Start a newspaper called the Trolley Times maybe?”

The Trolley Times, a newspaper run primarily by volunteers, is now published weekly, highlighting stories from each protest site.

In addition to deep-dives into the political and historical context surrounding the movement, and profiles on protest leaders, the paper also handles elements often overlooked by the mainstream media, like caste, class, and gender, said editor Mukesh Kulriya.

Paper issued in several languages
Kulriya also takes pride within the bilingual weekly’s design: When folded a particular way, the Punjabi segment comes first. When folded differently, the front page is in Hindi. The aim is to draw in readers across different protest sites.

Starting with an initial 1,000 copies, the team now publishes 7,000 copies. They also upload PDF versions of the newsletter. Supporters convert English translation into a variety of languages, including Bengali, Marathi, Kannada, French, Portuguese, and Shahmukhi, a modified Perso-Arabic alphabet employed by Punjabi Muslims in Pakistan.

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