On Tuesday, international pop star Rihanna had tweeted in support of the ongoing farmers strike and all hell broke loose.

 Rihanna, Akshay Kumar, Karan Johar and Ajay Devgn
news Farmers' protest Wednesday, February 03, 2021 - 17:13

Shortly after the Ministry of External Affairs issued a statement questioning the international support for farmers’ protests, several members of the Hindi film fraternity on Wednesday tweeted in support of the government. Actors Akshay Kumar, Suniel Shetty, Ajay Devgn, filmmaker Karan Johar, producer Ekta Kapoor and singer Kailash Kher were the celebrities who tweeted with the hashtags #IndiaTogether and #IndiaAgainstPropaganda, the two hashtags which were attached to the MEA statement.

On Wednesday, the MEA, in a rebuttal to Rihanna without naming her said that the singer’s response was neither "accurate" nor "responsible." Dubbing the protests as being done by a "small section of farmers", the MEA said, “Respecting the sentiment 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.”

International pop star Rihanna, who has 100 million followers on Twitter and is among the most followed people on the microblogging site, on Tuesday tweeted, "why aren't we talking about this?! #FarmersProtest, linking a CNN report on the internet shutdown near the protest site.

Coming to the government’s rescue, sharing the MEA statement on Twitter, Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar said that the efforts by the government to solve the issue are "evident."

“Farmers constitute an extremely important part of our country. And the efforts being undertaken to resolve their issues are evident. Let's support an amicable resolution, rather than paying attention to anyone creating differences. #IndiaTogether #IndiaAgainstPropaganda," Kumar wrote. 

Actor Ajay Devgn urged the people to be wary of "false propaganda against India or Indian policies". "Don't fall for any false propaganda against India or Indian policies. Its important to stand united at this hour w/o any infighting #IndiaTogether #IndiaAgainstPropaganda" he posted.

Director and Producer Karan Johar wrote that the country shouldn't let "anyone divide us".

"We live in turbulent times and the need of the hour is prudence and patience at every turn. Let us together, make every effort we can to find solutions that work for everyone-- our farmers are the backbone of India. Let us not let anyone divide us. #IndiaTogether," he said.

Similarly, Producer Ekta Kapoor wrote, “Let's stand united against any propaganda. Together we can and we will! #IndiaAgainstPropoganda #IndiaTogether

Actor Sunil Shetty also joined the campaign and stated that “nothing is more dangerous than half truth,” and shared MEA’s statement. 

Without naming anyone, singer Kailesh Kher said that anti-India forces can stoop to any level to defame the country.

"Even in this sad phase of pandemic,India is helping all nations with vaccine supply for the sake of Humanity.Let all realise that India is ONE & will not tolerate comments against it. #IndiaTogether #IndiaAgainstPropaganda" he tweeted. 

Several current and former cricketers also tweeted using the two MEA hashtags on Wednesday evening. Sachin Tendulkar tweeted, "India’s sovereignty cannot be compromised. External forces can be spectators but not participants. Indians know India and should decide for India."

Suresh Raina, Shikhar Dhawan and Anil Kumble also tweeted using the hashtags #IndiaTogether and #IndiaAgainst Propaganda. 

Ironically, right wing voices that questioned Rihanna, Mia Khalifa and other global voices and accused them of being part of a ‘paid conspiracy’, lauded the Indian celebrities who extended support to the government. Many social media users were seen asking Akshay Kumar why a Canadian like him should have a say in India’s internal matters. Since, this is the same jibe used by MEA and others against global voices.

On Tuesday night, Rihanna became the first global name to voice her support to the ongoing farmers agitation while criticising the internet shutdown at the protest site.  Environment activist Greta Thunberg, also backed the agitation, tweeting, “We stand in solidarity with the #FarmersProtest in India.”

In its response, the MEA said the Parliament of India passed the reformist legislation relating to the agricultural sector, and noted that some of the vested interest groups have tried to mobilise international support against India.

"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 ministry asserted that facts should be ascertained and a proper understanding of the issues must be taken "before rushing to comment on such matters".

"The temptation of sensationalist social media hashtags and comments, especially when resorted to by celebrities and others, is neither accurate nor responsible," the statement said.

Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab and Haryana, have been camping at several Delhi border points since November last year, demanding the government to repeal the three farm laws and legal guarantee of minimum support price (MSP) for their crops.

Sites of the farmer protest at Delhi's borders have turned into fortresses with the police beefing up security and putting up multi-layer barricades to stop the movement of vehicles. Barbed wire has also been put up to keep off people on foot.

The strengthened security measures at the agitation sites across the Delhi borders come after the violence during the Republic day tractor parade.

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