Online portal ‘The Quint’ has now come up with another video where they have tried to create a false narrative against Sr Sri Ravi Shankar and his organisation The Art of Living. The Quint video titled, “Happy Birthday Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, just don’t party like you did on Jamuna bank” has claimed that due to the World Culture Festival organised by AOL in 2016, the Jamuna floodplain has allegedly become too toxic to farm.
Our volunteers travelled to the area and spoke to the farmers regarding the issue. We also spoke to the same farmers that ‘The Quint’ spoke to, and the tale that emerged was extremely different. It seems that ‘The Quint’ has resorted to blatant lies and showing doctored and edited statements of the farmers. In some cases, they even misled farmers into believing that it was because of Sri Sri that they were not being allowed to farm when the truth is extremely different.
Following is the video where we spoke to the farmers of the area. We also detail how ‘The Quint’ misled the farmers and edited some comments to suit their agenda:
Lie No 1:
In a well-edited video, ‘The Quint’ showed the testimonials from the farmers who claim in the video that they are unable to grow crops on the floodplain
According to a 2015 order of the National Green Tribunal, farming on the floodplain is banned because the soil is too toxic to grow anything that is safe to eat. ‘The Quint’ has slyly made the video look like it was the event that damaged the floodplain and hence there cannot be any farming. The truth, however, is that the Delhi Development Authority has been enforcing the NGT’s order in the area and hence not allowing the local farmers to farm.
As seen in the video, a farmer named Parvati has explicitly stated that the DDA never lets them stay there and the officials come to tell them to leave their huts and vacate the place. She also added that there is nothing wrong with the soil and the farmers can grow crops if they are allowed to.
Another farmer named Kallu says the same thing. He states that the DDA people do not allow the farmers to farm in the land. A farmer named Bahadur also added that the farming has been stopped by DDA people and some of the farmers have been growing crops there despite the DDA order. The farmers denied that there is anything wrong with the soil and many have been growing vegetables like squash, ridged gourd, bitter gourd and sugar apple. The farmers added that if given proper fertilizer and water, the soil yields an excellent crop.
They even praised the event organised by AOL and stated that the farming went back to normal after the event, there was no damage to the soil. Farmer Nirbhaya added that the land that is being shown as barren has been barren even before the AOL event because that belongs to the DDA and they do not allow farming there.
Lie No 2:
The Quint video showed a woman named Haravati claiming that she is a farmer and she has not been able to grow anything on the land.
As detailed in the video, Haravati is not a farmer. She is a hired labourer who is employed by a farmer named Ram Singh Saini who has been farming uninterrupted on his land with the help of a court order.
‘The Quint’, shockingly, has allegedly led some of the innocent farmers to believe that Sri Sri has bought the land and he had stopped farming by force. Haravati revealed that she was told that the land has been sold to Sri Sri. She was surprised to find out that it was not the case.
Lie No 3:
A farmer named Sukhbir was shown in the video agreeing with ‘The Quint’s’ allegations.
Mr Sukhbir stated on camera that the water of Jamuna has been contaminated for decades now and aquatic life can hardly survive, but he added that farmers have always farmed on the floodplain area. He even stated that he explained to reporters from ‘The Quint’ that farming does not harm the river water but in their video that portion has been edited and they distorted his comment as per their convenience. Sukhbir even denied that there is no such wetland and the entire area between DND and ITO was being farmed.
As evident from our video report, when asked whether the area where the festival was held used to be a wetland before, Sukhbir denied it. He added that he had also stated to reporters from ‘The Quint’ that as a farmer, he has no complaints with Sri Sri. Sukhbir asserted that ‘The Quint’ deleted the portion where he said these things.
Sukhbir was quite dismayed at the way The Quint video has been doctored and he added that The Quint people have only played the parts which were suitable to their narrative and have left out crucial information in their video. He added further that media outlets like ‘The Quint’ should not misquote and use innocent farmers for their propaganda.
This is not the first time that ‘The Quint’ has peddled blatant lies and dangerous propaganda. In 2017, a Quint journalist was booked for abetting the suicide of Lance Naik Roy Matthew. In fact, their pussyfooting on Hafeez Saeed is not surprising, considering they had published an entire piece about Osama Bin Laden being a father and a husband. The Quint had also come up with a story that basically declared Kulbhushan Jadhav an ‘Indian spy’ thereby endangering his life and national security. We had rebutted that story threadbare and post massive backlash, The Quint had taken the story down and decided to “recheck its story“, but not before Pakistanis and its official agencies had started quoting The Quint article on Jadhav in an attempt to undermine India’s position.