Rihanna Slammed After Viral Tweet About Farmer Protests in India

US pop star Rihanna tweet drawing global attention to the three month old protest by farmers in India, has earned a sharp rebuke from the Indian government.
India’s external affairs ministry described the tweet and the reactions it triggered as irresponsible. It accused “foreign individuals” and celebrities of “sensationalism”. 

 The pop superstar’s tweet to her 101 million followers sent her name to the top of social media trends in India. Hours after the singer’s tweet, teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg and US vice president’s niece Meena Harris also tweeted support for the farmers. British MP Claudia Webbe also expressed her support for the farmers, writing, “Thank you Rihanna. In an era where political leadership is lacking, we are grateful for others stepping forward. Their widely shared tweets went viral, garnering thousands of responses. There were many who also criticised the singer for wading into the protests against the laws that have been defended by the government and its supporters. 

 Bollywood actress Kangana Ranaut, a supporter of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), posted a message quoting the tweet. "No one is talking about it because they are not farmers, they are terrorists who are trying to divide India," she wrote. Farmers have been protesting at Delhi’s borders against new farm laws. In a statement on Wednesday, India’s external affairs ministry said the Indian parliament had passed “reformist legislation relating to the agricultural sector” after a full debate and discussion. 

 “The temptation of sensationalist social media hashtags and comments, especially when resorted to by celebrities and others, is neither accurate nor responsible,” it added. 

 India suspended mobile internet services in three areas around the capital, Delhi, where tens of thousands of farmers are camping to protest against the new laws. 

 The government said the shutdown was to "maintain public safety". The protest made international headlines last week when a tractor rally by farmers ended in violent clashes that left one protester dead and dozens of policemen injured.

 Some demonstrators stormed Delhi's historic Red Fort and occupied it until police pushed them back. Farmers' groups and union leaders condemned the violence but said they would not call off the protest.
The farmers' protest, now in its third month, presents the biggest challenge Mr Modi has faced. His BJP government has offered to suspend the laws but the farmers want them repealed. 

 The authorities are extremely sensitive to criticism and, on Monday, Twitter restored dozens of Indian accounts that were earlier blocked after a legal notice by the government, citing objections based on public order. 

 The accounts included those of farmers' leaders, activists and a respected news magazine.

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