On Tuesday, Rihanna created a stir on Twitter after she shared a CNN article about the ongoing farmers’ protests in Delhi (and how the government has cut internet services for protesting farmers), when she tweeted, “why aren’t we talking about this?! #FarmersProtest.”
— Rihanna (@rihanna) February 2, 2021
All she did was draw attention to the fact that the international community has been largely silent on this issue. But the response she has received goes to show how much the Indian government wants to keep the protesting farmers under wraps.
From calling the protesting farmers ‘Khalistanis’ to terrorists – the Indian government is yet to take a positive step towards resolving the issue. So it was not surprising that the overall response from Indian Twitter users was one of gratitude and admiration. The government crackdowns are currently endangering the lives of farmers who are protesting and journalists who are reporting on the issue.
Barring a few, there has also been a conspicuous silence from Bollywood in support of the farmers. But as soon as Rihanna’s post became viral, Kangana Ranaut jumped in to call her a fool.
The right-wing ‘bhakts’ aka the infamous IT cell of the BJP government, predictably attempted to discredit Rihanna flooding her timeline with Chris Brown memes and photos of Rihanna’s battered face following abuse from Brown.
The social media tactics they follow often, willingly, and gleefully aim to traumatize people who speak up on behalf of social movements that the government is trying to suppress. When the people speaking up happen to be women, the attacks take a particularly misogynistic and dangerous turn.
The Indian government scrambled to issue a statement as more and more international celebrities like Swedish climate crisis activist Greta Thunberg, vice president Kamala Harris’ niece Meena Harris, YouTuber Lilly Singh, and many more joined in the conversation about the Indian farmers.
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. https://t.co/yIvCWYQDD1 pic.twitter.com/DxWWhkemxW
— Meena Harris (@meenaharris) February 2, 2021
The Indian government’s Ministry of External Affairs released a statement that reiterated its stand on the controversial laws and said that groups with “vested interests” are trying to mobilize international support against India. “We would like to emphasize that these protests must be seen in the context of India’s democratic ethos and polity,” it stated.
“The temptation of sensationalist social media hashtags and comments, especially when resorted to by celebrities and others, is neither accurate nor responsible,” it added.
Obviously, the reigning ‘nationalist’ hero of Bollywood, Akshay Kumar, quickly shared the government’s post with the hashtags #IndiaAgainstPropaganda and #IndiaTogether.
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 https://t.co/LgAn6tIwWp
— Akshay Kumar (@akshaykumar) February 3, 2021
To date, only a few stars from Bollywood have come out in support of farmers. These include Diljit Dosanjh, Taapsee Pannu, Richa Chadha, Sonu Sood, filmmaker Hansal Mehta, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, Divya Dutta, and Neha Sharma.
Diljit Dosanjh appreciated Rihanna’s effort so much that within 16 hours of her Tweet, he released a song on her titled ‘Riri.’ (As expected this also did not go down well with Ms. Ranaut and she continued her vitriol against the farmers and against Dosanjh on Twitter.)
Rihanna’s Tweet may have been on only seven words, but the impact it has created in the international forum is not something the Indian government is comfortable dealing with.
Freedom of speech is a fundamental right of the people and in this digital age, banning the internet, arresting journalists for reporting the truth, and suspending Twitter accounts that speak against the policies of the government, make its fascist side clearer than ever before in the international forum.
Not competent enough to sit idle and stare as the world goes by, Pallavi is optimistic to a fault and believes in building her world on her own rather than depending on others to make things right.