Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh. (HT File)
Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh. (HT File)

Maharashtra to probe if Indian celebs were forced to tweet in Centre’s support

The assurance was given to a Congress delegation, which, led by Maharashtra Congress general secretary and spokesperson Sachin Sawant, met home minister Anil Deshmukh virtually on Monday
UPDATED ON FEB 08, 2021 04:40 PM IST

Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh said Monday there will be an investigation into tweets by Indian celebrities last week made in response to tweets by international celebrities on farmers’ protests. The state will probe whether the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) pressurised celebrities to tweet, he said.

The assurance was given to a Congress delegation, which, led by Maharashtra Congress general secretary and spokesperson Sachin Sawant, met the home minister virtually on Monday.

The Maharashtra Congress has demanded a probe by the police into the tweets posted by Indian celebrities in response to the global criticism of the Central government’s handling of the farmers’ protest. The party sought an investigation to check if the celebrities were pressurised by the BJP to take to social media in support of the Central government.

Also Read | Congress demands probe to check if celebrities were forced to tweet in Centre’s support

“We met Deshmukh virtually and demanded a probe. He assured us there will be an investigation by the state intelligence department,” said Congress spokesperson Raju Waghmare.

Sawant said, “There is a similar pattern in these tweets by celebrities, including Akshay Kumar, Suniel Shetty, and sportspersons Sachin Tendulkar and Saina Nehwal. This shows that there was some communication between the celebrities and the ruling party leaders. There needs to be an investigation to check if these national heroes were pressurised by the BJP for such advocacy on social media. If so, these celebrities need to be given more protection,” he said.

Celebrities, including Tendulkar, playback singer Lata Mangeshkar and a host of Bollywood actors took to Twitter on February 3 after international personalities such as musician Rihanna and climate change activist Greta Thunberg expressed support for the farmers’ protest in Delhi.

Indian celebrities tweeted in response using the hashtags #IndiaAgainstPropaganda and #IndiaTogether, which have been framed by the ministry of external affairs (MEA).

The tweets from these celebrities came after a statement from the MEA which called the criticism of India’s farm laws by foreign personalities “unfortunate”.

“Parliament of India, after a full debate and discussion, passed reformist legislation relating to the agricultural sector. These reforms give expanded market access and provided greater flexibility to farmers,” the ministry said in a statement.

“Before rushing to comment on such matters, we urge that facts be ascertained and proper understanding of issues at hand be undertaken,” the MEA had further said in the statement.

Maharashtra BJP’s media head Vishwas Pathak said, “Raising questions over tweets by Indian celebrities is an insult to them. These celebrities have their own ability to express on social mediums. There was nothing wrong in them speaking about the Indian sovereignty.”

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