International pop idol Rihanna threw her weight and celebrity behind the farmers’ protests in India with a tweet on Tuesday condemning the internet shutdown in protest areas along Delhi's borders. The ban on internet services was aimed at decelerating the mass farmers' protests in Delhi against agricultural reforms announced in 2020.
While a majority of Bollywood stars including Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, Akshay Kumar and Priyanka Chopra have observed a stoic silence on the issue of farmers’ protests, Rihanna – who has more than 100 million followers on Twitter - is the first significant star from the West to speak up about the internet blackout.
“Why aren’t we talking about this?! #FarmersProtest,” tweeted Rihanna, with a link to a news article about the internet ban in several border districts of Delhi. While most people on Twitter hailed the ‘Don’t Stop The Music’ singer for taking a stand and her tweet was widely-shared, Indian actress Kangana Ranaut was quick to school the pop idol.
“No one is talking about it because they are not farmers they are terrorists who are trying to divide India, so that China can take over our vulnerable broken national and make it a Chinese colony much like USA … Sit down you fool, we are not selling our national like you dummies,” tweeted Ranaut.
Rihanna isn’t American and was born and raised in Barbados in the Caribbean Islands. But Ranaut – who has always supported India’s ruling BJP party and has consistently spoken against the farmers’ protests branding them terrorists – didn’t let facts come in her way. Known for her abrasive social media Tweets, Ranaut immediately faced backlash for her knee-jerk response to Rihanna.
However, Rihanna's tweet had support from some others. Indian actors such as Richa Chadha and Kubra Sait expressed their respect for the singer bringing attention to the issue.
As soon as Rihanna’s widely-shared Tweet hit social media circles, YouTuber Lily Singh tweeted her support for the singer and posted: “Yes! Thank you so much @rihanna. This is a humanity issue! #IStandWithFarmers and this narrative is TIRED (sic).”
Thousands of farmers in India have been staging protests for months on the outskirts of Delhi demanding that the Central government in India withdraw three farm laws that were passed in September. The protests were peaceful until January 26, India’s Republic Day, when protesters broke through police barricades to enter Delhi and clashed with the police. Security has been beefed up in the capital and the internet ban is aimed at slowing down the intensity of the farmers’ movement.