India slams Rihanna and other celebrities for ‘irresponsible’ tweet supporting farmers’ protest
India has slammed “foreign individuals” and celebrities of “sensationalism” in a response to a tweet from popstar Rihanna. The US musician extended her support to India’s protesting farmers – which drew global attention.
Just hours after Rihanna’s tweet, climate activist Greta Thunberg and the US vice president’s niece Meena Harris also tweeted support for the farmers.
Their tweets went viral and gathered plenty of responses.
Farmers in India have been protesting at Delhi’s boarder against new farm laws.
In a statement on Wednesday, India’s external affairs ministry said parliament had passed “reformist legislation relating to the agricultural sector” after a full debate and discussion.
“The temptation of sensationalist social media hashtags and comments, especially when resorted to by celebrities and others, is neither accurate nor responsible,” it added.
Rihanna’s tweet on Tuesday linked to a news story about the internet blockade at the protest sites.
— Rihanna (@rihanna) February 2, 2021
— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) February 2, 2021
India suspended mobile internet services in three areas around Delhi, where tens of thousands of farmers are camping to protest against the new laws.
The government said the shutdown was to “maintain public safety”.
The protests became major international news last week when a tractor rally by farmers ended in violence that killed one protester and dozens of policemen injured.
Some demonstrators stormed Delhi’s historic Red Fort and occupied it until police pushed them back
Farmers’ groups and union leaders condemned the violence but said they would not call off the protest.
Rihanna’s tweet to her 101 million followers sent her to the top of India’s social media trends.
But many have criticised Rihanna for wading into the protests against the laws – which have been defended by India’s government and its supporters.
Bollywood actress Kangana Ranaut posted a message quoting the tweet.
“No one is talking about it because they are not farmers, they are terrorists who are trying to divide India,” she wrote.
The farmers’ protest is now in its third month and presents Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his biggest challenge to date. His BJP government has offered to suspend the laws but farmers want them repealed.
India’s authorities are extremely sensitive to criticism. On Monday, Twitter restored dozens of Indian accounts that had been blocked after a legal notice by the government that citied objections based on public order.
The accounts included those of farmers’ leaders, activists and a respected news magazine.
What are the farmers’ laws?
The controversial farm laws loosen rules around the sale, pricing and storage of farm produce which have protected India’s farmers from the free market for decades.
Farmers fear that the new laws will threaten decades-old concessions – such as assured prices – and weaken their bargaining power, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation by private companies.
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