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Farmers’ Protest strengthen after celebs like Rihanna extend support

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

New Delhi: More than two months long Indian farmers’ protest became internationally known after celebrities like pop star Rihanna, Jazzy B, climate campaigner Greta Thunberg among several others extended their support on Twitter to the agitating farmers who have been denied basic human rights like internet, water and electricity due to their ongoing protest against Central government’s three controversial laws.

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Global pop star Rihanna’s tweet on farmers’ protest saw tremendous support on social media as within few hours of her tweet #farmersprotest started to trend on the twitter. Joining in her in this online campaign were several celebrities, politicians, lawmakers from the United States and the United Kingdom who also talked about the “peaceful” protest that began late November near Delhi’s borders and is now facing ‘atrocities’ at the hand of authorities as internet has been snapped, journalist covering protest have been arrested, water and electricity supply being cut down, mobile toilet vans removed, multiple barricades and barbed fences put up on major protesting sites. All these measures have been defined as “extreme measures” by the demonstrators.

Taking this protest internationally, Rihanna on Tuesday evening asked her 100 million followers: “Why aren’t we talking about this?! #FarmersProtest (sic)”. Her post – that had a report on internet ban at the protest sites – was widely shared, leading to a global outpouring of support.

Sharing RiRi’s post UK MP Claudia Webbe wrote: “Solidarity to the Indian Farmers. Thank you Rihanna. In an era where political leadership is lacking we are grateful for others stepping forward.” Many others expressed solidarity with the demonstrators after the pop star’s tweet. Punjabi pop singer thanked the international icon for joining the voices supporting the agitation.

Talking about the restrictions at the protest sites, Lebanese-American model Mia Khalifa tweeted:

Democrat, US Congressman Jim Costa, used the Rihanna’s hashtag in his tweet- #FarmersProtest- and underlined he was “closely monitoring the situation”. “The unfolding events in India are troubling. As a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, I am closely monitoring the situation. The right to peaceful protest must always be respected. #FarmersProtest (sic),” his post on microblogging site read.

Newly elect US Vice President Kamala Harris’s niece Meena Harris also showed her support. “It’s no coincidence that the world’s oldest democracy was attacked not even a month ago, and as we speak, the most populous democracy is under assault. This is related. We all should be outraged by India’s internet shutdowns and paramilitary violence against farmer protesters,” she tweeted.

Climate Campaigner and Nobel Peace Prize nominee for this year,  Greta Thunberg, also expressed her solidarity for protesting farmers.

Meanwhile, a petition has also been filed in the parliament of United Kingdom, calling for the safety of demonstrators.

To note, the ruling government in India is going extraordinary lengths to ground the agitating farmers at three protesting sites from snapping internet, water and electricity being cut to securing the borders by planting iron grills, digging up the ground, spikes being cemented to the ground, layers of barricades being laid out with concrete poured for stability, concertina wire and boulders being placed to create more obstacles to prevent protesting farmers from entering the national capital. Where the police is calling these measures to avoid violent situation like Republic day tractor rally, which had seen protestors charging against the police personnel with swords and lathis and damaging public properties.

Talking about these measures, Delhi Police Delhi Police Commissioner SN Shrivastava had said the barricading was strengthened at the protest epicentres after last week’s clashes. “I am surprised that when tractors were used, police were attacked, barricades were broken on January 26, no questions were raised. What did we do now? We have just strengthened barricading so that it’s not broken again,” he said while talking about the strong security measures that have been brought in force.

Protesters, who have been camping for the last two months, have alleged disruption in water and power supply due to the installation of barricades and barbed wire fences. Digging of trenches and nails on roads, and temporary internet suspension are part of “attacks” being organised by the government, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of farmer groups, has said.

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