New Delhi: Popular singer Rihanna and climate activist Greta Thunberg on Tuesday brought international attention to the farmers’ protest.
While this prompted a host of other global celebrities to express their support to the farmers’ protest, Rihanna and Thunberg also became the target of a vicious troll campaign in India.
The 32-year-old singer from Barbados, who has over 100 million followers on Twitter, took to the microblogging site and shared a CNN news article headlined, “India cuts internet around New Delhi as protesting farmers clash with police.”
“Why aren’t we talking about this? #FarmersProtest,” Rihanna wrote.
The singer’s tweet gained instant traction on Twitter, with more than one lakh retweets and two lakh likes within hours. At the time of publishing it, had over 1.9 lakh retweets and over 4 lakh likes.
why aren’t we talking about this?! #FarmersProtest https://t.co/obmIlXhK9S
— Rihanna (@rihanna) February 2, 2021
Teenage activist Thunberg also shared the CNN article, but was more explicit in her support. “We stand in solidarity with the #FarmersProtest in India,” she wrote.
We stand in solidarity with the #FarmersProtest in India.
— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) February 2, 2021
Rihanna’s tweet was lauded by Bollywood actors Richa Chadha and Swara Bhasker, who have been vocal supporters of the agitation. Actor Kangana Ranaut, who has aligned herself with the BJP, criticised Rihanna and labelled the protesting farmers as “terrorists”.
The ‘Umbrella’ singer was hailed by a section of social media users for speaking up at a time when many Bollywood celebrities have stayed mum on the issue. Last year, Punjabi star Gippy Grewal criticised the Hindi film industry for not standing up for farmers.
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.
Popular YouTuber Lilly Singh, whose channel is called Superwoman, shared Rihanna’s tweet and thanked the singer. “This is a humanity issue! #IStandWithFarmers and this narrative is TIRED,” she wrote.
Yes! Thank you so much @rihanna. This is a humanity issue! #IStandWithFarmers and this narrative is TIRED. ❤️ https://t.co/H0h5EM7mNW
— Lilly // #LateWithLilly (@Lilly) February 2, 2021
Another young climate activist, Vanessa Nakate, also expressed support to the farmers. In a tweet, she tagged Licypriya Kangujam, a nine-year-old climate activist from Manipur.
Let us talk about what is happening in India right now #FarmersProtest @LicypriyaK
— Vanessa Nakate (@vanessa_vash) February 2, 2021
US vice president Kamala Harris’ niece Meena Harris said everyone should be “outraged by India’s internet shutdowns and paramilitary violence against farmer protesters”. She added that “as we speak, the most populous democracy is under assault”.
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
Other politicians such as US Representative Jim Acosta and British MP Claudia Webb, activist Jamie Margolin, actor John Cusack, also expressed support.
Rihanna became the target of a vicious troll attack after her tweet. In India, ‘Chris Brown’ trended in response to Rihanna’s tweet. Brown assaulted Rihanna in 2009 and many Twitter users glorified or justified the domestic violence case.
‘Chris Brown’ continues to trend on Twitter India hours after Rihanna tweeted in support of India’s #FarmersProtest, as pro Modi, BJP supporters troll Rihanna, glorify her assault, flood her mentions with tweets justifying assault on her pic.twitter.com/LJRPLM3oQ1
— Hindutva Watch (@Hindutva__watch) February 2, 2021
There were also several derogatory references to her race, with some users justifying slavery. The Wire has seen these tweets but is not sharing them.
The international attention to the farmers’ protest has come at a time when the sites of their protest at Delhi’s borders have turned into fortresses. Police have put up multi-layer barricades and fences to stop the movement of vehicles. Internet services have also been suspended.
The strengthened security measures come after clashes during the Republic Day tractor parade.
Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab and Haryana, have been camping at several Delhi border points since November last year, demanding the government to repeal the three farm laws and legal guarantee of minimum support price (MSP) for their crops.
(With PTI inputs)