Farmer from Punjab and Haryana have been protesting on the different borders of the national capital since November 26 last year against the three new farm laws: Farmer’s Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act 2020; the Farmer Empowerment and Protection Agreement on Price Assurance and farm Service Act 2020, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020. (ANI)
After several rounds of negotiations failed to end the impasse over three central farm laws, the farmer unions backing the stir planned to intensify their stir.
They took out a tractor rally in New Delhi on Republic Day which turned violent. Many protesters and policemen on duty were injured. The cops responded by shutting down the internet, digging ditches, driving nails into roads and topping barricades with razor wire to prevent farmers from entering the capital again.
Meanwhile, the Haryana government has extended the suspension of mobile internet services in several districts of the state till 5 pm on February 3, reports news agency ANI.
International pop star Rihanna extended her support to farmers protesting on the borders of India’s capital against the three agriculture laws introduced by the Central government last year and asked why people were not talking about it. Taking to Twitter, the 32-year-old pop star shared a news story by CNN on the internet shutdown in several districts of Delhi’s neighbouring state Haryana after protestors broke barricades to enter New Delhi and clashed with police in several parts of the national capital during the January 26 ‘tractor rally’ protest organised by farmers
Late on Tuesday, Thunberg tweeted about the protest along with an article that talks about internet cut at the protest sites. Apart from Thunberg, UK Member of Parliament Claudia Webbe also expressed solidarity with the Indian farmers. “We stand in solidarity with the #FarmersProtest in India,” the teen activist said in her tweet.
Meanwhile on Wednesday afternoon, following the (negative) global attention the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India has issued a press Statement on recent comments by foreign individuals and entities on the farmers’ protests going on in a pocket of North India. Here’s the statement in full text:
“The 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. They also pave the way for economically and ecologically sustainable farming.
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.
Yet, it is unfortunate to see vested interest groups trying to enforce their agenda on these protests, and derail them. This was egregiously witnessed on January 26, India’s Republic Day. A cherished national commemoration, the anniversary of the inauguration of the Constitution of India, was besmirched, and violence and vandalism took place in the Indian capital.
Some of these vested interest groups have also tried to mobilise international support against India. Instigated by such fringe elements, Mahatma Gandhi statues have been desecrated in parts of the world. This is extremely disturbing for India and for civilised society everywhere.
Indian police forces have handled these protests with utmost restraint. It may be noted that hundreds of men and women serving in the police have been physically attacked, and in some cases stabbed and seriously wounded.
We would like to emphasise that these protests must be seen in the context of India’s democratic ethos and polity, and the efforts of the Government and the concerned farmer groups to resolve the impasse.
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.
Several celebrities, including Tendulkar, and legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar, recently rallied around the central government on social media following tweets by American pop singer Rihanna and Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg who lent their voice to the agitating farmers.
With Sachin Tendulkar leading the call among the cricket fraternity for unity in India in what can be seen as a veiled response to the international media attention that the farmer’s protests, other players including the likes of Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane and Anil Kumble followed suit.
7:04 PM · Feb 3, 2021·Twitter Web App
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.
The legendary singer also joined Indian personalities, including actors Akshay Kumar and Ajay Devgn, in expressing support for the government’s stand on the ongoing farmers’ protests, saying that the country is capable of solving problems “amicably”. Mangeshkar’s statement came after the Ministry of External Affairs reacted sharply to comments by Rihanna, Greta Thunberg and others on farmers’ protests.
On February 6, days after Sachine Tendulkar made comments in the wake of remarks of some celebrities on the protest by the farmers, National Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar on Saturday asked the former Indian Skipper Sachin Tendulkar to “exercise caution while speaking about other fields.” “Many people (celebrities) have reacted sharply to the stand taken by them (farmers). My suggestion to Sachin Tendulkar is he should be cautious while commenting on fields other than his domain,” Pawar told to reporters.
MNS chief Raj Thackeray spoke against Tendulkar’s tweet on farm laws that read: “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.”
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) also took on the Centre for dragging Bharat Ratna awardees Lata Mangeshkar and Tendulkar into its campaign to counter tweets from celebrities such as singer Rihanna. He slammed the Centre, saying that the issue was with the government’s policy and not a national issue to use legends to garner support.
Thackeray, who was speaking to reporters, said that the union government should have not exposed Mangeshkar and Tendulkar to social media trolling. “The government should not have asked Sachin Tendulkar and Lata Mangeshkar to tweet and put their reputation at stake. This is an issue of the government’s policy and not of the country’s like some threat from China or Pakistan. Now they have to face the wrath of social media trolling.”
He further said, “They (Tendulkar and Mangeshkar) are legends in their fields, and they are very simple people. They should not have been asked to tweet with the same hashtag. They tweeted what the government asked them to tweet, and now they are at the receiving end.”
Thackeray also slammed the Centre for issuing clarification to Rihanna’s tweet supporting the farmers’ stir.
In a shocking development, the Congress has sought a probe into the tweets by Sachin Tendulkar, Akshay Kumar, Sunil Shetty and others after they spoke in support of India and for unity in light of foreign celebs entering the farmers’ protest row. According to sources, on Monday, the Maharashtra government, via Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, assured Congress’ Sachin Sawant over a Zoom call that the state intelligence department will probe whether Sachin Tendulkar and others were pressurised to tweet by the Centre.
Following attacks by the Opposition for his Twitter post with ‘India Together’ and ‘India Against Propaganda’ hashtags and demonstrations outside his house, cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar has now been approached by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to tweet in favour of the protesting farmers.
Following his tweets, Tendulkar’s poster was smeared with black oil by members of Kerala’s Youth Congress. The cricketing legend has been subject to extensive criticism by several factions for calling out the propaganda by ‘external forces’.
Meanwhile, India cricket team head coach Ravi Shastri also asserted this is an internal matter which will be resolved through dialogue.
“Agriculture is very important part 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 #IndiaAgainstPropganda,” Shastri tweeted.
Earlier in the day, former Indian Spinner Pragyan Ojha said the country knows how important farmers are and an outsider’s opinion is not needed on an internal matter after international pop star Rihanna extended support to farmers protesting on the borders of India’s capital.
“My country is proud of our farmers and knows how important they are, I trust it will be addressed soon. We don’t need an outsider poking her nose in our internal matters,” said Ojha while replying to Rihanna’s tweet.