Thousands of young and old farmers have blocked roads leading into New Delhi for more than two months, sheltering in tractors from the cold. A tractor rally by farmers last week in New Delhi turned violent. Police responded by shutting down the internet, digging ditches, driving nails into roads and topping barricades with razor wire to prevent farmers from entering the capital again. In a democratic country, the protest and demonstration in support of their demands is justified and this is constitution-provided right too, but when a demonstration becomes a cause of trouble for the government, then all kinds of foul plays are played to prove them wrong by authorities.
Since most of the TV studios in North India are in Noida, Delhi and Gurgaon, are hell bent on hiding the truth and showing what is convenient for the government. In such crises social media has become boon, Farmer’s voice is reaching across the globe. These farmers are getting the support of almost all anti-BJP people, political parties and other organizations. While political organizations are engaged in securing their political loaves, other NGOs and anti-national organizations are engaged in fulfilment of their vested interests under the guise of this movement. Whereas the government is trying to act smart by assigning their IT cell goons to attack the participants and supporters of farmer’s agitation.
Amid such tug of war, Rihanna, the famous pop singer said in a Twitter post, “Why aren’t we talking about this?!” sharing a CNN article on the demonstrations with her 100.9 million followers on the platform, using the hashtag #FarmersProtest. Rihanna, one of the world’s biggest celebs, has a new fan club – the agitating farmers are thrilled that Rihanna has tweeted support of their cause. How do I know that Rihanna is the big new favourite on the playlist at the camps? Rihanna was not the only one. Greta Thunberg, teenage climate change activist, and lawyer Meena Harris, niece of US Vice President Kamala Harris, have also tweeted support for the agitating farmers in the last 12 hours. The Ministry for External Affairs at a press conference reacted by saying, “Some vested interest groups have tried to mobilise international support against India. Well their statement did not go well with social media activists and they further exposed the Prime minister and his government.
The farmers say the government’s offer to keep the laws on hold for 18 months while talks are held between both sides is unacceptable. The government says it will not repeal the laws but is open to hearing what changes are needed. The latest pictures arriving from camps, though, of farmers being virtually blocked into their sites, speak volumes of how far apart the two sides remain. The Ministry of Home Affairs ordered the shutdown of internet services in the border areas of Singhu, Ghazipur and Tikri, while the Haryana government has cut off connectivity in seven districts at least until Wednesday. Rihanna’s tweet received many positive responses, including one from the Kisan Ekta Morcha handle, which acts as the online voice of the protesting farm unions. “Glad! Thanks @rihanna for expressing your concern towards the ongoing farmers protest. Hope that the masses stand by the truth, the whole world can see but why can’t the government??” it said. Others asked why many Indian celebrities had not expressed their support for the farmer’s movements.
At least one Indian celeb took exception to Rihanna’s tweet. “No one is talking about it because they are not farmers they are terrorists who are trying to divide India, so that China can take over our vulnerable broken nation and make it a Chinese colony much like USA…Sit down, you fool, we are not selling our nation like you dummies,” tweeted Bollywood actress Kangana Ranaut who has been outspoken about her support of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and her disdain for the protesting farmers. The 32-year old Rihanna is a native of the Caribbean island nation of Barbados, though she has lived in the United States since 2003.
The statement gives away just how big an embarrassment the international support is for the Modi government – in the last few days, the internet has been switched off in some locations around the protest camps, spikes have been embedded into roads, and concrete barriers have been stacked up, all to impede the farmers’ agitation. On Monday, Twitter blocked over 250 accounts of those tweeting about the farmers with a hashtag that was apparently objectionable to authorities. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is known for his dexterous use of social media, as are many of his party leaders and ministers. After the riot in Delhi on January 26, where a section of those who entered Delhi with hordes of farmers turned on the cops and attacked them, the farmers’ movement lost some of the goodwill it had earned in the nearly two months since thousands of farmers, camped at three locations near the capital, demanding that the government cancel three laws that they claim leaves them as easy prey for big corporate. In particular, they feel the laws will remove the minimum support price for their produce given by the government. The government and its supporters say the laws contain reforms that will provide farmers with huge new opportunities. Eleven rounds of talks between farmer reps and ministers made no progress. With every passing day – my opinion keeps swinging from one way to another. It is really hard to predict what is going to be the future of this agitation.