Images that have been flooding social media are not that of the Line of Control. They are from Delhi’s very own Red Fort.
It was earlier besieged by protestors, now there are barbed wires and spear-like nails trying to seal the agitation on the battleground. The barbed wires have been used to seal the roads, there are cement barricades, we can even see hundreds of Delhi Police personnel — some of them brandishing steel rods.
You used to see this on the Indo-Pak border. Now here we are — at the Delhi-Tikri-Ghazipur-Singhu borders.
These images look shocking on our TV screens and social media platforms. The site looks no better than a military zone, or even a prison with high security.
On TV, remarks of pacification by Bharatiya Janata Party leaders like Union Minister for Agriculture, Narendra Singh Tomar, or national spokesperson Sambit Patra, did little to suppress the war cry.
Amid all the ruckus, Barbadian singer, actress and businesswoman Rihanna took to social media to share a photograph of the tractor rally at the Delhi border. “Why aren’t we talking about this?!”, she wrote, along with hashtag #FarmersProtest.
— Rihanna (@rihanna) February 2, 2021
Social media users, and even various media houses, were quick to unleash their wrath on the singer for criticising our country from abroad.
Republic TV’s Arnab Goswami went to the extent of releasing a statement on the Republic website, asking Rihanna, Greta or Lily Singh not to tell us how to run our country.
Headlines on CNN News18 read: “Who is destabilising India?”, “Plot to defame India”, “Is this a conspiracy?”.
In the evening’s debate, Times Now spoke about “Modi Sarkar Sees Foreign Hand”. According to NewX, “an anti-India lobby” is trying to give “a bad name to India”.
And before we knew, politicians, Bollywood stars and cricketers began condemning Rihanna, and Greata Thunberg too, whose tweet read: “We stand in solidarity with the #FarmersProtest in India.”
— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) February 2, 2021
“No propaganda can deter India’s unity!” wrote Amit Shah.
No propaganda can deter India’s unity!
No propaganda can stop India to attain new heights!
Propaganda can not decide India’s fate only ‘Progress’ can.
— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) February 3, 2021
“Motivated campaigns targeting India will never succeed. We have the self confidence today to hold our own. This India will push back,” wrote Dr. S. Jaishankar.
— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) February 3, 2021
Nirmala Sitharaman wrote: ““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.”
“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.”#IndiaTogether #IndiaAgainstPropagandahttps://t.co/rGJiPvlM4D
— Nirmala Sitharaman (@nsitharaman) February 3, 2021
Labelling the farmers as “terrorists”, Kangana Ranaut said: “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 nation and make it a Chinese colony much like USA… Sit down you fool, we are not selling our nation like you dummies.”
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 nation and make it a Chinese colony much like USA…
Sit down you fool, we are not selling our nation like you dummies. https://t.co/OIAD5Pa61a
— Kangana Ranaut (@KanganaTeam) February 2, 2021
The following are statements by other celebrities like Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgan, Karan Johar, Suniel Shetty, Sachin Tendulkar and more.
Farmers constitute an extremely important part of our country. And the efforts being undertaken to resolve their issues are evident. Let’s support an amicable resolution, rather than paying attention to anyone creating differences. 🙏🏻#IndiaTogether #IndiaAgainstPropaganda https://t.co/LgAn6tIwWp
— Akshay Kumar (@akshaykumar) February 3, 2021
— Ajay Devgn (@ajaydevgn) February 3, 2021
We live in turbulent times and the need of the hour is prudence and patience at every turn. Let us together, make every effort we can to find solutions that work for everyone—our farmers are the backbone of India. Let us not let anyone divide us. #IndiaTogether
— Karan Johar (@karanjohar) February 3, 2021
— Suniel Shetty (@SunielVShetty) February 3, 2021
Agriculture is a very important part of the machinery of the Indian economic system. Farmers are the backbone of any country’s ecosystem. This is an internal matter which I’m sure will be resolved through dialogue. Jai Hind! #IndiaStandsTogether #IndiaAgainstPropoganda 🇮🇳
— Ravi Shastri (@RaviShastriOfc) February 3, 2021
India’s sovereignty cannot be compromised. External forces can be spectators but not participants.
Indians know India and should decide for India. Let's remain united as a nation.#IndiaTogether #IndiaAgainstPropaganda
— Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) February 3, 2021
Reaching a solution that benefits our great nation is of utmost importance right now. Let’s stand together and move forward together towards a better and brighter future. #IndiaTogether #IndiaAgainstPropaganda
— Shikhar Dhawan (@SDhawan25) February 3, 2021
Keeping the media houses and celebrities aside, Rihanna is being viciously trolled. Social media users hit a new low as they hailed American songwriter Chris Brown for assaulting Rihanna. His name soared on social media as netizens began to trend ‘Respect Chris Brown’, ‘Missing Chris Brown’ and ‘Chris Brown did nothing wrong’.
Back in 2009, a 19-year-old Brown was arrested for assaulting his then-girlfriend Rihanna, who was 20, during a confrontation the morning before the Grammys. After he pleaded guilty of assaulting Rihanna with the “intent of doing great bodily injury”, Chris Brown was sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to complete 180 days of community labour and a year-long anti-domestic violence programme.
Is this how fragile our ego has become? While influential people in India often refuse to help the needy, a couple of celebrities from abroad had the guts to speak up. How exactly was this unfair or an attempt to malign the country’s image?
Each of us know that India is unsafe for women. We look over our shoulders at night and think twice before boarding a bus to avoid ending up raped and murdered like Nirbhaya did. That is the truth, and if someone from abroad points that out, the reality does not change.
Similarly, as images from the Red Fort surfaced, our blood ran cold. Being just as normal a human being as we are, isn’t Rihanna supposed to be shocked? Isn’t it obvious for Greta Thunberg to feel disturbed?
It is time for us to introspect and realise that someone from abroad standing in solidarity with our farmers is not unjust. If you cannot appreciate it, the best you can do is ignore it, but attacking Rihanna, abusing her and hailing Chris Brown for his crimes is not just unacceptable but outright sickening.
Several people in India who have raised their voices against injustice may never get back their livelihood or dignity. If someone has the courage to stand up against wrongfulness, be it Rihanna or Greta, we have no right to troll, abuse or harass them. It is shameful.