As Hollywood celebrities came out in support of the ongoing protests by Indian farmers against the new laws enacted by the Narendra Modi government, Bollywood actors and directors criticised their pro-farmer intervention and backed the government’s position.
American pop star Rihanna was among the first to take to Twitter in support of the farmers’ protest in India, questioning the lack of discussion regarding the months-long demonstration. The music icon tweeted: “why aren’t we talking about this?! #FarmersProtest”
John Cusack, an American actor, producer, and screenwriter, retweeted British legislator Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi’s tweet on farmers’ protest with the comment: “Amazing”.
Amazing ⬇️ https://t.co/J8NmtVdBqQ— John Cusack (@johncusack) January 29, 2021
Amanda Cerny, a popular American video blogger (vlogger), also pitched in on the discussion. The celebrity vlogger uploaded on Instagram a photograph of protesting women farmers with the caption: “The world is watching. You don’t have to be Indian or Punjabi or South Asian to understand the issue. All you have to do is care about humanity. Always demand freedom of speech, freedom of press, basic human and civil rights-equity and dignity for workers.”
American rapper and record producer Russ tweeted his dismay at the repression amid the ongoing protests. “What’s going on in India [flag] is crazy smh sending love to all my fans and people who are being affected by this #FarmersProstest”.
Hollywood icons began discussing India’s farmer protests seemingly after the United States based CNN reported on the protests — focussed on the internet shutdown and diminishing press freedoms in the country.
A @CNN article seems to have globalised the #FarmersProtest in #India, with teen climate activist @GretaThunberg and pop icon @rihanna tweeting it out. @JustinTrudeau stood in solidarity with the farmers as far back as Dec. Something's gotta givehttps://t.co/PwcTlJo2C4— Vicky Kapur (@vickykapur) February 3, 2021
Following the tweets by the international celebs, India’s Ministry of External Affairs issued a statement “on recent comments by foreign individuals and entities on the farmers’ protests.”
In an unprecedented move, MEA slams the Republic of Rihanna, says no one should comment 9n Farm laws without studying them, and PMs offer to put them on hold. https://t.co/FbB9Qp6iZ6— Suhasini Haidar (@suhasinih) February 3, 2021
The MEA stated: “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. “
In response to the self-explanatory hashtag #FarmersProtest, the ministry came up with its own set of counter hashtags:”#IndiaTogether” and “#IndiaAgainstPropaganda” which were backed by prominent Bollywood actors and directors.
Tweeting against the farmers and the protest — along with the hashtags coined by the Indian government — were prominent actors Akhshay Kumar, Ajay Devgn, Suniel Shetty, singer Kailash Kher, and film and television producer Ekta Kapoor.
The ongoing protest is the largest protest by farmers that India has seen.