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Farmers' protest: Why did a Rihanna tweet prompt Indian backlash?

The show Time /source BBC

The ministry of external affairs released a statement criticising "celebrities and others" for their "neither accurate nor responsible" comments, and top ministers and celebrities tweeted against "propaganda" that threatened India's unity. Some pro-government news channels amplified the establishment voice; one Bollywood actress known for her pro- government opinions called Rihanna a "porn star"; and misogynistic trolls even hailed her ex-boyfriend Chris Brown for assaulting her in 2009.Tens of thousands of farmers have been protesting on the borders of the capital Delhi for more than two months against new laws that will loosen the rules around the sale, pricing and storage of agricultural produce.

Rihanna's tweet on Tuesday linked to a news story about the internet blockade at the protest sites and soon went viral, gaining more than 700,000 likes. "Why aren't we talking about this?!" wrote the singer, who has 100 million followers on the social network.

The government pushback was swift, led by

Home Minister Amit Shah who tweeted on Wednesday night with hashtags #IndiaAgainstPropaganda and #IndiaTogether. "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. India stands united and together to achieve progress," he wrote.

Soon afterwards, ministers, Bollywood stars and cricketers also began tweeting, using one or both of the hashtags used by Mr Shah. "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," wrote cricketer Sachin Tendulkar.

Issue 41 | 7 r, who has 100 million followers on the social network

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