India says celebrities' comments on farm protests irresponsible

Published February 3, 2021
This combination photo shows US popstar Rihanna (L), Climate activist Greta Thunberg (C) and Meena Harris. – Twitter
This combination photo shows US popstar Rihanna (L), Climate activist Greta Thunberg (C) and Meena Harris. – Twitter
People shout anti-farmers slogans and wave India's flags as police officers try to stop them, at a site of the protest against farm laws at Singhu border near New Delhi, India, January 29. — Reuters
People shout anti-farmers slogans and wave India's flags as police officers try to stop them, at a site of the protest against farm laws at Singhu border near New Delhi, India, January 29. — Reuters

India slammed international celebrities on Wednesday for making comments in support of protesting farmers as inaccurate and irresponsible and said vested interest groups were trying to build opinion against the country.

US singer Rihanna, climate change activist Greta Thunberg and US lawyer and activist Meena Harris, the niece of Vice-President Kamala Harris, made comments on social media drawing attention to the plight of farmers who have been on a months-long campaign against reforms.

“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 Indian foreign ministry said.

Protesting Indian farmers won global attention on Wednesday after Rihanna created a flutter in India by posting an article on the demonstrations to her 101 million Twitter followers, also using the #FarmersProtest tag.

"Why aren’t we talking about this?" she wrote, referring to the ongoing protests.

Not long after, prominent Western activists joined the pop superstar to voice support for the farmers' months-long campaign against agriculture reforms.

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg also posted a message of support on Twitter, sharing a news report about the internet shutdowns.

“We stand in solidarity with the #FarmersProtest in India,” Thunberg wrote.

“We All should be outraged by India’s internet shutdowns and paramilitary violence against farmer protesters,” US lawyer and activist Meena Harris, the niece of Vice-President Kamala Harris, said on Twitter.

Farmers protest

Tens of thousands of farmers have camped out on the outskirts of New Delhi for more than two months, demanding the withdrawal of new agricultural laws that they say benefit private buyers at the expense of growers.

The government of Prime Minster Narendra Modi says reform of the agriculture sector will bring opportunities for farmers.

The protests turned violent on Jan 26, when farmers broke into the historic Red Fort complex, with one protester killed and hundreds injured.

Talks between the government and the protest leaders have so far failed to achieve any breakthrough.

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