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India farmers: The viral image that defines a protest

A photograph of a paramilitary policeman swinging his baton at an elderly Sikh man has become the defining image of the ongoing farmers’ protest in India.

The photograph, taken by Ravi Choudhary, a photojournalist with Press Trust of India (PTI), has gone viral on social media.

It has also resulted in political wrangling – with opposition politicians using the image to criticise the way the protesters are being treated and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) claiming – falsely – that the farmer was not hit.

Hundreds of thousands of farmers have laid siege to Delhi for the past few days, choking almost all the entry points to the national capital.

They are protesting against a recent law that they say is against their interests. The government says the reforms, which open the farming sector to private players, will not hurt farmers.

Unconvinced, thousands of them have marched upon Delhi, where they were met by barricades at the border.

As they arrived in a convoy of tractors and on foot, tens of thousands of police and paramilitary troops were deployed to halt their march, leading to clashes with the police.

In several places, police fired tear gas shells and used water cannons to try to beat them back.

The photograph of the Sikh farmer, with a flowing white beard, being threatened by a paramilitary policeman was taken last Friday at the Singhu border in north-west Delhi as farmers and protesters breached the barricades and entered the city.

“There was stone pelting, barricades were broken and a bus was also damaged with violent clashes between the police and protesters,” photojournalist Ravi Choudhary, who took the picture, told fact-check site Boomlive.com.

He said the police started hitting the protesters and the old man in the photo was also hit.
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The photograph went viral quickly, shared by tens of thousands of people on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Many, including the photographer, tagged the image with “Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan” (or “Hail the Soldier, Hail the Farmer”) – a slogan coined by former Indian PM Lal Bahadur Shastri in 1965 during the India-Pakistan war to stress the importance of soldiers and farmers in nation building. Read from source….