As prominent international figures like Rihanna, Greta Thunberg, Meena Harris, and others brought the farmers protest to the world stage through their posts on social media, the government responded against them and called them “neither accurate nor responsible.”
In an official statement, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said: “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.” The two hashtags, “#IndiaTogether” and “#IndiaAgainstPropaganda” was used in the MEA statement.
The MEA statement stated that vested interest groups are trying to enforce their agenda on the farmers protests to derail them and cited that violence on the Republic Day tractor parade was an example of it. It also said: “Some of these vested interest groups have also tried to mobilize international support against India. Instigated by such fringe elements, Mahatma Gandhi statues have been desecrated in parts of the world. This is extremely disturbing for India and for civilized society everywhere.”
The statement also underlined that the protest must be seen in the context of India’s democratic ethos and polity, and the efforts of the government and the concerned farmer groups to resolve the impasse.
Following the statement, various Indian ministers took to Twitter. Union Home Minister Amit Shah tweeted: “No propaganda can deter India’s unity! No propaganda can stop India to attain new heights! Propaganda can not decide India’s fate only ‘Progress’ can. India stands united and together to achieve progress. #IndiaAgainstPropaganda #IndiaTogether”
External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar said that motivated campaigns targeting India will never succeed.
Besides various Indian ministers, Indian celebrities also reacted and responded with hashtags – #IndiaTogether and #IndiaAgainstPropaganda. Indian cricketer and Bharat Ratna winner Sachin Tendulkar said: “India’s sovereignty cannot be compromised. External forces can be spectators but not participants.”
While sharing the MEA statement on Twitter, Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar said: “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”
Indian cricketer Virat Koli tweeted: “Let us all stay united in this hour of disagreements.”
However, few prominent figures have also raised criticism against the response of these Indian celebrities. Top Carnatic vocalist and author T M Krishna tweeted: “No one stopped anyone from saying anything about all that went on in the US did they?”
Indian Congress leader Shashi Tharoor stated that the damage done to India’s global image by the government of India’s “obduracy & undemocratic behavior can’t be remedied by a cricketer’s tweets.”