No Net at border yet, farmers lose link with those back home

Protesters use rotation formula to spread messages, say ‘govt. keeping them in dark’

As Internet services at the Singhu border continued to remain affected on Thursday, protesting farmers claimed that their link with those back in their respective villages has snapped.

The farmers, who have been protesting for over 70 days, said in a bid to counter rumours and fake narratives, they earlier used social media. However, with the suspension of the Internet, they said, they are now traveling several kilometres to upload videos and other relevant information.

‘Phone calls are patchy’

Gurmeet Singh, a farmer from Punjab’s Moga district, said: “With the Internet ban, the government has completely blocked us out. Even though they said the ban is over, we still do not have access to the Internet. Sometimes even phone calls are patchy. The government is trying to ensure that our voices do not reach the public.”

He added: “Earlier, we could simply do a Facebook live or something on social media to spread our messages. This way, we got a lot of support from those living abroad. But look what has happened now. We have been completely isolated from the rest of the world.”

Following the connectivity issues, a group of farmers from Punjab’s Taran Tarn district said new ways to update people back in their respective villages are being used. Another farmer, Prabhjot Singh, said: “It has become extremely difficult to keep the communication going. Because we are coming here on a rotation basis, the only option we have for communication is to wait till it is our turn to return. The group that went back yesterday [Wednesday] captured several videos over the last four to five days. Once they reach the village or if they get proper connectivity on the way, they will upload them.”

The farmers are now left in the dark, said Manjeet Singh, a farmer. “The government has completely snapped our links with our families. It has now become easier for them [government] to ensure that only their version is out there. There are times when we travel several kilometres away from the site so that we can post videos or some information,” Mr. Singh added.

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