Govt reacts sharply to foreign celebrities' tweets on farmers' protest
Rihanna, Greta Thunberg and Meena HarrisIANS (File photos)

Govt reacts sharply to foreign celebrities' tweets on farmers' protest

New Delhi, February 3, 2021

The Government today reacted sharply to the posts on social media by some internationational celebrities such as pop singer Rihanna and teen environmental activist Greta Thunberg on the farmers' protests in India and urged them to ascertain the facts before commenting on the issue.

"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 temptation of sensationalist social media hashtags and comments, especially when resorted to by celebrities and others, is neither accurate nor responsible," the Ministry of Exernal Affairs (MEA) said in a statement, without referring to any of the celebrities by name.

The statement by the MEA came a day after comments on social media by Rihanna, Thunberg and US Vice-President Kamala Harris' niece Meena Harris, among others.

A Twitter frenzy broke out on Wednesday when American pop singer Rihanna on Tuesday night posted a news link on India's farmers' protest and tweeted, "Why aren't we talking about this?!" It triggered widespread outrage from Indians questioning Rihanna's credentials and knowledge about India's internal matters.

This was followed by Thunberg, who tweeted, "We stand in solidarity with the #FarmersProtest in India."

Harris, a lawyer and author, said, "It's no coincidence that the world's oldest democracy was attacked not even a month ago, and as we speak, the most populous democracy is under assault. This is related. We all should be outraged by India's internet shutdowns and paramilitary violence against farmer protesters."

In its statement, the MEA said, "The Parliament of India, after a full debate and discussion, passed reformist legislation relating to the agricultural sector. These reforms give expanded market access and provided greater flexibility to farmers. They also pave the way for economically and ecologically sustainable farming.

"A very small section of farmers in parts of India have some reservations about these reforms. Respecting the sentiments of the protestors, the Government of India has initiated a series of talks with their representatives. Union Ministers have been part of the negotiations, and eleven rounds of talks have already been held. The Government has even offered to keep the laws on hold, an offer iterated by no less than the Prime Minister of India.

"Yet, it is unfortunate to see vested interest groups trying to enforce their agenda on these protests, and derail them. This was egregiously witnessed on January 26, India’s Republic Day. A cherished national commemoration, the anniversary of the inauguration of the Constitution of India, was besmirched, and violence and vandalism took place in the Indian capital.

"Some of these vested interest groups have also tried to mobilise international support against India. Instigated by such fringe elements, Mahatma Gandhi statues have been desecrated in parts of the world. This is extremely disturbing for India and for civilised society everywhere.

"Indian police forces have handled these protests with utmost restraint. It may be noted that hundreds of men and women serving in the police have been physically attacked, and in some cases stabbed and seriously wounded.

"We would like to emphasise 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," the statement said.

(With inputs from IANS)

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