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Rihanna’s six-word tweet send Indian govt into tizzy, global support pours in for protesting farmers

A six-word tweet from pop icon Rihanna on the ongoing farmer protests in Indian capital, sent the right wing Narendra Modi government into tizzy with the country’s foreign ministry putting out an unprecedented reaction along with hashtags to counter a massive twitter-storm on Wednesday.  

The pop-icon, who has over 100 million followers on twitter, posted a CNN report on Tuesday, asking a six-word question: ‘why aren’t we talking about this?!’

On Wednesday morning, Indian government came under global scrutiny for the way it is handling the ongoing farmers’ protest. India’s Ministry of External Affairs said that tweets by foreign individuals are “sensational and irresponsible”.

 “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,” said the ministry in a statement.

Thereon, #IndiaTogether has been trending on Twitter. Bollywood celebrities, many of whom had not yet spoken about the protest; and political leaders have been urging people not “fall for any propaganda” under the hashtag.

That includes A-list celebrities like Akshay Kumar, Karan Johar, Ajay Devgn and more.

Rihanna’s tweet brought global attention to the protest in India, which has been going on for months now. Meanwhile, many Indians have poured in support for the pop star. In fact, Indian actor Diljit Dosanjh has even released a new song dedicated to Rihanna.

Farmers have been seeking a rollback of the new farm laws. After a tractor rally took a violent turn on January 26 in Delhi, the Modi government blocked the Internet in Delhi, and deployed heavy security at its borders. It also built concrete walls with cemented nails to prevent protestors from entering the capital. The CNN report posted by Rihanna detailed the unprecedented clampdown against the Indian farmers.

India’s opposition too slammed the Indian government after the global outcry. 

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said India’s reputation has taken a “massive hit” and its biggest strength, its soft power, has been “shattered” by the BJP and the RSS.

Addressing a press conference, he said that the farmers’ issue needs to be resolved as soon as possible and the government needs to listen to them.

Asked if India’s image at the international level has taken a beating with barricading at Delhi’s borders where farmers are protesting and reports of treatment meted out to them, Gandhi said, “Absolutely the reputation of India has taken a massive hit. Not only on how we are treating our farmers, but on how we treat our people, how we treat journalists.” “Our biggest strength, you can call it soft power, has been shattered by the BJP-RSS, their mindset,” he said.

After Rihanna, climate activist Greta Thunberg and Meena Harris, the lawyer niece of US vice Kamala Harris too tweeted in support of the farmers. 

Reports said on Tuesday night, Rihanna’s international hit “Rude boy”, was playing at the three farmer protest sites at the Delhi border. 

The Indian foreign ministry’s statement gives away just how big an embarrassment the international support is for the Modi government. 

On Monday, Twitter blocked over 250 accounts of those tweeting about the farmers with a hashtag that was apparently objectionable to authorities. Modi is known for his dexterous use of social media, as are many of his party leaders and ministers. After outcry, twitter reinstated the accounts but has now been served a notice by the Modi government, warning the social media giant of consequences. 

The Indian government and its supporters say the three agricultural laws contain reforms that will provide farmers with huge new opportunities. Eleven rounds of talks between farmer representatives and Modi’s ministers have made no progress.

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