The BJP advertisement featuring Harpreet Singh | By special arrangement
The BJP advertisement featuring Harpreet Singh | By special arrangement
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New Delhi: A Punjab farmer protesting at Delhi’s Singhu border has sent a legal notice to the BJP, alleging that his photograph was used without his consent in an advertisement promoting the new farm laws. 

Harpreet Singh, 36, a resident of Hoshiarpur, sent the notice Tuesday evening after spotting his photograph on the ad Monday. Singh has claimed that the BJP has now deleted the ad.

“A friend informed me Monday that my photograph has been used by the BJP for an ad that they had uploaded on the Punjab BJP’s Facebook page. The photo is from a shoot that I did for abstract art work in 2014 and was available on my Instagram and Facebook pages,” Singh, also an actor and filmmaker, told ThePrint Wednesday.

Singh said that while his photos have been used by the BJP and others for ads on other issues before, this time they used it at the wrong time and without his consent.

“They used the photograph without my consent in a bid to show that Punjab’s farmers are happy with the three laws by showing a happy farmer in the ad. But the truth is that Punjab’s farmers are not happy with the laws and are protesting,” said Singh.

The ad showed a smiling Singh alongside a message with the hashtags #MSPHaiAurRahega and #ModiWithFarmers. The ad in Punjabi read: “Crops are being bought at MSP this season. This season’s rice is being bought at MSP, 77,957.83 crore rice has been bought on MSP, of which 49 per cent was from Punjab. Some forces are misleading the farmers (sic).”


Also read: Shambles over farmers’ protest shows Modi-Shah BJP needs a Punjab tutorial


Punjab BJP ‘unaware’ of the matter

In his legal notice to the BJP, Singh has said due to the wrong and non-consensual usage of his photograph in support of the farm laws, he has “suffered huge defamation in the eyes of the farmers and others, which has resulted in mental harassment”. 

“My client has been protesting against the laws both in Punjab and now at Singhu border, and the ad uses his photograph and shows that he’s supporting the laws. We sent the legal notice to the (BJP) high command Tuesday evening,” Hakam Singh, Harpreet’s lawyer, told ThePrint. 

Singh, who has been protesting at Singhu for two weeks, said that while the ad has now been taken down, the damage has already been done. 

“They have taken down the ad and are using a different ad since yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon. But the whole country has already seen the ad and people have taken screenshots and it has been widely shared as well. The ad tries to show that we are being misled, and farmers are actually happy with the laws, but this is not true as we are protesting and are not happy with the laws,” Singh said.

The Punjab BJP, meanwhile, denied any knowledge of the incident. 

“I am not aware of the details of the matter. Since the matter has been raised, I will enquire into it if such an incident has happened at all,” Ashwani Kumar Sharma, Punjab BJP chief, told ThePrint.

Thousands of farmers have been protesting against the centre’s three farm laws for over three weeks at Delhi’s borders. Farmers have claimed that the laws allow corporatisation of agriculture and fear that they will not get a fair price for their produce. 

Farmers have demanded a total repeal of the laws along with a new law on MSP. The stalemate continues despite five rounds of talks between the Centre and the protesting farmer groups in which the government has agreed to make amendments, but not repeal the laws.


Also read: Punjab’s frustration & anger is rooted in its steep decline, now visible in farmers’ protests


 

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