NEW YORK: International personalities Greta Thunberg and Meena Harris hit back at Indian trolling on Thursday, saying they won’t be intimated or silenced by the threats and hate directed at them for supporting the protesting farmers in India.
Climate change activist Thunberg and the niece of US Vice President Kamala Harris have received backlash from India after they endorsed US pop icon Rihanna over the ongoing farmer’s protest in New Delhi.
“I won’t be intimidated, and I won’t be silenced,” tweeted Meena
Thunberg also issued a strong statement on Twitter.
“I still #StandWithFarmers and support their peaceful protest. No amount of hate, threats or violations of human rights will ever change that. #FarmersProtest.”
On Wednesday, India slammed Rihanna and Thunberg for making “sensationalist” Twitter comments on farmer protests, and threatened legal action against the US social media giant for not taking down other content on the protests.
Social media platforms have become a major battleground in India since tens of thousands of farmers camped on the outskirts of New Delhi in November to protest against government action to deregulate produce markets.
Rihanna, who has more than 100 million Twitter followers, wrote “why aren´t we talking about this?!”, with a link to a CNN news story about an internet blackout at some protest camps.
Hundreds of thousands of people retweeted or liked her comment.
Thunberg also tweeted a story about the blackout, saying: “We stand in solidarity with the #FarmersProtest in India.”
The celebrity tweets triggered an online storm in India, where the protests have become the biggest challenge to Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi since he took power in 2014.
The foreign ministry said the celebrities should keep out of internal affairs and needed “a proper understanding of the issues”.
“The temptation of sensationalist social media hashtags and comments, especially when resorted to by celebrities and others, is neither accurate nor responsible,” it said.
Some Indians tweeted in support of Rihanna, but others attacked her.
Bollywood actress Kangana Ranaut, a Modi supporter, called the protesting farmers “terrorists” and Rihanna a “fool”.
Modi says the laws are necessary to boost rural incomes, but farmers fear the key agriculture industry will be taken over by big corporations.
The government later threatened Twitter with “penal action” for unlocking 250 accounts and many tweets that the company had earlier blocked.
Twitter took the initial action following a government notice, but reversed course after a few hours.
Among accounts targeted was a prominent news magazine and others linked to farmer unions.
India has faced criticism from media watchdogs over the arrest of a journalist and investigations launched into five others — who could face sedition charges.
India, the world´s biggest democracy, regularly uses internet shutdowns to limit information-sharing during disturbances.