Former Indian captains Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble and current men’s team head coach Ravi Shastri were among the cricketers who on Wednesday tweeted using hashtags coined by the Ministry of External Affairs in response to global criticism of the Centre’s handling of the farmers’ protests.
The two hashtags are #IndiaAgainstPropaganda and #IndiaTogether. Several film personalities and politicians also used the hashtag to amplify the government’s stand on Wednesday.
Later on, current India captain Virat Kohli as well Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane posted their messages using the #IndiaTogether hashtag.
Tendulkar wrote that “external forces can be spectators but not participants. Indians know India and should decide for India” while Kumble tweeted “India is more than capable of taking her internal issues to amicable solutions.”
Shastri said that “farmers are the backbone of any country’s ecosystem,” adding that “this is an internal matter.”
Suresh Raina and Shikhar Dhawan were among other Indian cricketers who tweeted, as did BJP MP and former cricketer Gautam Gambhir.
The ministry’s statement on Wednesday, where it used the hashtags, came after pop singer Rihanna tweeted a news article about the farmers’ protests against the recently passed agriculture reforms. “Why aren’t we talking about this?!” she had asked, using the hashtag #FarmersProtest.
Rihanna had shared a CNN article about the Centre’s decision to block internet services at three protest sites near Delhi borders, a favoured tactic of the Narendra Modi government to thwart protests. Internet was also suspended in districts of Haryana, following violence on Republic Day.
The tweet went viral on social media, leading to an outpouring of support from the international community for the farmers.
The ministry had then issued a statement warning about the dangers of the use of hashtags. The ministry said that the comments were “neither accurate nor responsible”, adding that the protests were by “a very small section of farmers” in parts of India.