Rihanna: Indian celebrities slam Rihanna for the protest of farmers, tweet
Indian celebrities hit back at pop singer Rihanna and climate activist Greta Thunberg on Wednesday (Feb 3) for making social media statements on the protests of mass farmers.
Sporting legend Sachin Tendulkar and a host of Bollywood stars hit out at what the foreign ministry called “sensationalist” Twitter comments as the government and farmers set up ever-tougher roles in their two-month-old fight over new agricultural laws.
“Why aren’t we talking about this?!” wrote Rihanna, who has more than 100 million Twitter followers, with a connection to a news article about an internet outage at protest camps that have been home to tens of thousands of farmers since November.
More than a million people responded to her tweet, liked it, or commented on it.
A report about the blackout was also tweeted by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, saying: “We stand in solidarity with the #FarmersProtest in India.” Meena Harris, niece of US Vice President Kamala Harris – whose mother was born in India – added her support.
The celebrity tweets built an online store in India, where protests have been Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s biggest challenge since taking power in 2014.
“The temptation of sensationalist social media hashtags and comments, especially when resorted to by celebrities and others, is neither accurate nor responsible,” said the foreign ministry.
Tendulkar, cricket’s highest-scoring international, led the Twitter riposte by Indian celebrities.
“India’s sovereignty cannot be compromised. External forces can be spectators but not participants,” he said.
Bollywood actress Kangana Ranaut, a Modi supporter, called the protesting farmers “terrorists” and Rihanna a “fool”.
Actors and directors Anupam Kher, Akshay Kumar, Suniel Shetty, and Karan Johar joined the fray against the “foreigners”.
The government later threatened Twitter with “penal action” for unlocking 250 accounts and tweets on the farmers’ protests that the US company had earlier blocked. Twitter took the initial action following a government notice but reversed course after a few hours.
Among accounts targeted were a prominent news magazine and others linked to farmer unions.
The Electronics and IT ministry said Twitter had “unilaterally” unblocked the accounts and content and that it was “obliged” to obey government orders. “Refusal to do so will invite penal action.”
A senior ministry official told AFP that the blocking order had targeted content that had the hashtag “#ModiPlanningFarmerGenocide” and not general comments about the protests.
India has also faced criticism from media watchdogs over the detention of a journalist who may face sedition charges covering the protests and inquiries conducted on five others.
Officials raised pressure on the protest camps in the middle of the war of words, putting up barbed wire barriers around some and laying spikes on roads leading to them so that tractors could not carry further reinforcements.
But farmers’ leader Rakesh Tikait vowed to organize thousands of more farmers at a rally attended by an estimated 50,000 people in Haryana state for the Delhi protests, where a day of action is scheduled for Saturday. AFP-