Rihanna weighs in on major India farm protests, drawing angry response

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Rihanna weighs in on major India farm protests, drawing angry response

U.S. pop superstar Rihanna created a flutter in India on Tuesday by wading into months-long farmer protests against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s agricultural reforms.

Tens of thousands of young and old farmers have blocked roads leading into New Delhi for more than two months, sheltering in tractors from the cold, Reuters reports.

The farmers are protesting new agricultural laws they say benefit private buyers at the expense of growers.

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.

Tens of thousands of farmers have camped on the outskirts of the capital for more than two months, 

“Why aren’t we talking about this?!” Rihanna said in a Twitter post, sharing a CNN article on the demonstrations with her 100.9 million followers on the platform, using the hashtag #FarmersProtest.

Hours after the singer's tweet, teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg and the US vice president's niece Meena Harris also tweeted support for the farmer protests.

In a statement on Wednesday, India's external affairs ministry said 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.

As she trended on Twitter in India, a Mumbai-based actress who backs India’s ruling nationalist party lashed out at Rihanna.

“No one is talking about it because they are not farmers, they are terrorists who are trying to divide India...” Kangana Ranaut told her 3 million followers on the same platform.

India’s prime minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday protesters that stormed New Delhi’s Red Fort had caused “insult” to the country, his first public comments on a months-long farmers’ agitation that turned violent last week.

He added: “The government is committed to modernizing agriculture and is also taking many steps in that direction.”

Agriculture employs about half of India’s labor force, and unrest among an estimated 150 million landowning farmers is one of the biggest challenges to Modi’s rule since he first came to power in 2014.


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