Meena Harris rejects criticism of comments on Indian farmers’ protest


Indian American Vice President Kamala Harris’ niece Meena Harris, who is an Indian American, has rejected the idea that the Indian diaspora had no place in expressing opinions on the country.

“Don’t tell me to stay out of your affairs,” Harris tweeted last month after hundreds of Indians barraged her with abuse on Twitter for criticizing Indian state’s clampdown on farmers protesting agricultural reforms, according to CNN.

“These are all of our issues,” added the American author, who also tweeted a photo of nationalist counter-protesters setting her image ablaze. “Weird to see a photo of yourself burned by an extremist mob but imagine what they would do if we lived in India,” she wrote.

Some 18 million people make up the Indian diaspora. In the US alone, 4.8 million people are either Indian migrants or report Indian heritage, CNN noted.

Tens of thousands of Indian farmers have been protesting in and around the capital, New Delhi, over three new agricultural laws.

READ: Indian American groups express solidarity with protesting farmers (February 1, 2021)

Harris is joined by a plethora of other celebrities of Indian descent in her condemnations of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government and India’s security forces.

Several Indian-Canadians — including the politician Jagmeet Singh, the poet Rupi Kaur and the comedian Lilly Singh — have voiced their support for the farmers, as has the Indian-British singer Jay Sean and Indian American comedian Hasan Minhaj, CNN noted.

Like Harris, many of these Indians abroad are being put in the basket of Western celebrities like singer Rihanna and climate activist Greta Thunberg, who are also stoking anger in India, it said.

Mia Khalifa, a Lebanese-American former celebrity and former adult film star, has also been vocally supportive of the farmers. Images of all three were burned alongside that of Harris on a four-headed effigy.

The issue of a clampdown on farmers has struck a chord in the UK, as well as the US and Canada, all of which are home to substantial Indian communities, CNN said.

In Oakland, California, thousands of Indian Americans from across the state and some from beyond took part in a car rally protest in December last year to show solidarity with the farmers.

Many of the US protesters were themselves farmers, sitting atop their tractors during the rally, as many in India have also done during demonstrations, CNN said.

“People drove from Los Angeles and Seattle, and from across the Central Valley,” Naindeep Singh, a leader from California’s Jakara Movement, who helped organize the protest, was quoted as saying.

There are also solidarity protests in Canada and the UK, CNN reported. Some 500,000 people identify as Sikh in the UK, while in Canada, around the same number said Punjabi was their first language in a 2016 census.

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