In the first week of April this year, a group of men came and stood outside the Centre for Science and Environment (cse), New Delhi.
They carried placards with offensive slogans directed at me. We understood the 'protesters' were ostensibly from an ngo we believed was a front for the pesticide industry. We also understood the picket to be the latest in a dangerous pesticide industry mindgame.
Let me explain. For the past few years, the pesticide industry, represented by its rich and powerful owners, has held press conferences across the country slamming cse's research on pesticide residues in food, in the blood of farmers in Punjab and in the soil, water and food of diseased and deformed villagers of Padre in Kerala. During this period, we have received dozens of legal notices from this industry, threatening dire consequences. Every time we have replied to these notices, stating the facts, there has never been a follow-up. Instead, another notice for some other frivolous reason gets sent threatening dire consequences. Initially, the industry targeted our research. The focus then moved to us--to cse--before settling on me. A year ago, they hit a real low when they began circulating obscene cartoons of me that Rajju Shroff, owner of a leading pesticide company, had drawn.