India has reacted sharply to social media posts and tweets by celebrities based in other countries. India’s ministry of external affairs (MEA) called all such posts as “neither accurate nor responsible” and termed them as “temptation of sensationalist social media hashtags and comments, especially when resorted to by celebrities and others”. The MEA response comes after celebrities like singer and entertainer Rihanna, activist Greta Thunberg and others tweeted on farmers protests in India.
The MEA did not take names but said, “before rushing to comment on such matters, we would urge that the facts be ascertained, and a proper understanding of the issues at hand be undertaken.”
The MEA statement pointed out that the farm laws have been passed after a full debate and discussion and “these reforms give expanded market access and provided greater flexibility to farmers”. The statement recalled talks between the govt and farmers over the “reservations about these reforms” and the fact that “Government has even offered to keep the laws on hold, an offer iterated by no less than the Prime Minister of India”.
The MEA recalled the developments of January 26, when protestors resorted to “violence and vandalism” in Delhi. The statement also mentioned how the Indian police forces have “handled these protests with utmost restraint” even as “hundreds of men and women serving in the police have been physically attacked” and in “some cases stabbed and seriously wounded.”
The statement highlighted the fact that Mahatma Gandhi statues were being “desecrated in parts of the world” in the name of expressing solidarity.
It can be recalled that Rihanna, who has 101 million followers tweeted a media link saying, “Why aren’t we talking about this?! #FarmersProtest”. Greta, tweeted the same link, saying, “We stand in solidarity with the #FarmersProtest in India”.
Meena Harris, the niece of US Vice President Kamala Harris too tweeted, saying, “We ALL should be outraged by India’s internet shutdowns and paramilitary violence against farmer protesters.”
US politicians too joined the bandwagon. Jim Costa, a member of the US congress’s Foreign Affairs Committee tweeted, “I am closely monitoring the situation. The right to peaceful protest must always be respected. #FarmersProtest”.
The MEA emphasised that these protests must be seen in the context of India’s democratic ethos and polity, and the efforts of the Government and the concerned farmer groups to resolve the impasse.