Tweets by international celebrities: Farmers welcome support but say it’s our fight
Ghaziabad: Most of the farmers camping at the UP Gate protest site on Wednesday said that they were unaware about the tweets made by American pop singer Rihanna and climate activist Greta Thunberg in their support. However, they said that the tweets by the two internationally renowned personalities would help their cause.
Most of the traditional farmers who remain away from the social media said that it is their fight with the government, and they will continue it.
“We don’t know who Rihanna is. But If someone is listening to our voices, it means that our protest has caught attention of many people and we thank them for their support. However, it is our own fight, and we will continue to protest peacefully,” said Rajpal Sharma, national general secretary of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU).
The farmers from different states, including UP, Uttarakhand and Punjab, are camping at the site since November 28 to press for their demands for repeal of the Centre’s three new farm laws and a new law on minimum support price.
On Tuesday, Rihanna shared a news article on the farmers’ protest and tweeted, “Why aren’t we talking about this?” Similarly, activist Greta Thunberg too extended her support and wrote, “We stand in solidarity with the #farmersprotest in India.”
Jagtar Singh Bajwa, farmer leader from Uttarakhand and member of UP Gate farmers’ committee, was busy looking after the dais and activities after BKU leader Rakesh Tikait left for a Mahapanchayat at Jind in Haryana.
“We still have internet connectivity issues here and not been able to send our videos and pictures. If international personalities tweet messages, it means that people understand our situation. It also means that the government should leave its hard stance now and support farmers’ demand. This is why people are tweeting and even holding panchayats across many cities. Our movement is gaining popularity,” Bajwa said.
Some of the net savvy youngsters like 19-year-old Arshdeep Singh, a native of Kichha in Uttarakhand, were of opinion that the tweets by international celebrities will have no effect. “It is our own fight. We are sticking to it and not going home till the farm laws are taken back. There have been voices raised for the farmers’ movement in the past, but the government did not budge. I feel that the tweets by the two celebrities will have no impact. But we are motivated that people outside the country are raising our issues,” he said.
The social media was abuzz with claims and counterclaims over the tweets of the celebrities as Rihanna has about 101 million followers while Thunberg has about 4.7 million followers.
“I thank Rihanna for her comments... The farmers’ agitation had already been internationalised since the onset. International celebrities are very sensitive about different issues, including social issues. I would urge celebrities of our country as well to come out and support cause of farmers,” Dr Udit Raj, national chairman of All India Confederation of SC/ST Organizations, said at the UP Gate.
Amid the claims and counterclaims, the ministry of external affairs was also quick to react. Its official spokesperson, Anurag Srivastava, issued a statement with two hashtags, #IndiaTogether and #IndiaAgainstPropaganda. “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 spokesperson said in a statement.
“A very small section of farmers in parts of India have some reservations about these reforms. Respecting the sentiments of the protestors, the Government of India has initiated a series of talks with their representatives. Union Ministers have been part of the negotiations and eleven rounds of talks have already been held. The government has even offered to keep the laws on hold, an offer iterated by no less than the Prime Minister of India,” the statement further added.