D.he protesting farmers in India get support from an American superstar: the artist Rihanna jumps on Twitter to the farmers in Delhi who have been opposing the new agricultural laws of the government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi for months. The American is followed by a good 101 million people around the world. A few hours later, environmental activist Greta Thunberg, who in turn has almost five million followers online, took over the comment. Even if there may be a lot of overlap among the “followers”, the two women mathematically reach a number of people that corresponds to around a tenth of the Indian population. By Wednesday evening in Asia, more than half a million people had given Rihanna’s comment a heart, a quarter of a million forwarded it to their own networks.
Before that, there had been repeated clashes between the police and farmers around Delhi. The smallholders, mainly from the Punjab granary, fear losing their livelihood if the agricultural market is overdue to open up. On the national holiday they drove to the old town with a tractor parade. Some also hoisted the yellow flag of the Sikhs’ religious community, to which the majority of farmers belong – which many Sikhs themselves were indignant about. Modi described this as “sad”, on the Internet there were sharp attacks by many Indians who accused the farmers of lowering the Indian national flag.
Government: Very small group of farmers
Rihanna tweeted a picture of the protests and the address of the movement on social media, combined with the question: “Why don’t we talk about it?” The government in New Delhi felt so provoked that it accepted the unexpected offer: ” Before rushing to comment on such matters, we would like to urge that the facts be ascertained. The temptation to use sensational hashtags and comments on social media, especially when used by celebrities and others, is neither right nor responsible. “
The foreign ministry’s official statement goes on to say: “It is regrettable that interest groups are trying to impose their agenda on these protests and derail them.” Looking at the eleven rounds of negotiations with the demonstrators so far, the ministry said: “A very small group of farmers in parts of India have some reservations about the reforms. ”The farmers are not deviating from their maximum demand to repeal the three reform laws. The government is against “violence and vandalism” and refers to “hundreds of injured police officers”. According to the farmers’ associations, almost 200 of their people died during the two-month protests due to the cold or cardiac death in their camps outside the big city.
In the meantime, the police of the largest democracy in the world have switched off the Internet in parts of Delhi, raised barricades and pulled barbed wire to prevent the farmers from entering the metropolis again. Journalists are disabled at work. Weeks ago, supporters of Indian farmers in downtown Sydney, America and Great Britain protested against the Modi government. She herself uses the Internet intensively in her election campaigns. But now the niece of the new American Vice President Kamala Harris took up Rihanna’s tweet and wrote: “We should all be outraged about India’s shutdown of the Internet and paramilitary violence against protesting farmers.” Harris was celebrated in India because there were so many people consider them “one of their own” based on the origins of their parents.