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Accepted Paper:

Disruption of newly created online & offline civic spaces of protest: Examining the ongoing India's Farmers' Protest and its impact on human and digital rights in a democracy  
Rini Sinha

Paper short abstract:

India's largest farmers' protest against farm laws are co-existing in newly created civic spaces, both offline and online, with many attempts by govt to disrupt it. How does disruption in one space impact the other? This paper will explore these implications on human & digital rights in a democracy.

Paper long abstract:

India’s largest farmers’ protest resisting government’s recently passed farm laws has grabbed worldwide attention, but what's significant is that it's a movement that has been marked by creation of new civic spaces of protest- both offline and digital, right from its inception. After being denied official permission to protest in India’s capital city, farmers decided to camp on national highways, thereby creating a new community-like offline civic space of protest. This was accompanied by simultaneous creation of an online civic space of protest- this movement is arguably among the first protests in the country’s history that has a defined online presence completely managed by volunteers- a dedicated IT team, social media handles, which have specifically been created to directly put forth the farmers' arguments to the masses and counter the government's narrative. The protests have time and again also come under the government’s scrutiny- from protesters being subjected to tear gas and water cannons to internet shutdowns and blocking of social media handles supporting the protests “as a measure to maintain public safety and avert public emergency”. What are the implications of the simultaneous existence of both spaces of protest? How inclusive are both these spaces? How does the closure of one affect the other? Through a desk-based review of grey literature, this paper seeks to examine the relations and patterns that are emerging and the implications it may have on human & digital rights in a democratic country as these two spaces of protest continue to co-exist.

Panel P21b
The digital unsettling of civic space II
  Session 1 Wednesday 30 June, 2021, -