India captain Virat Kohli on Thursday said that the ongoing farmers’ protest against new agriculture laws came up for a brief discussion during the team meeting ahead of the Test series against England beginning on Friday in Chennai.
Kohli, speaking to the media ahead of the first of the back-to-back Tests in Chennai, kept his response brief when asked about the tweets from him and some of his teammates that used the #IndiaTogether hashtag to counter global criticism over farmer protests in the country.
“Any issue which is present in the country, we do talk about it and everyone has expressed what they had to say about the issue, We briefly spoke about it in the team meeting and then we carried on discussing the team’s plans,” Kohli told the media when asked about the tweets.
On Tuesday, a tweet by pop star Rihanna in support of the farmers dominated social media, leading to an outpouring of international condemnation of the Narendra Modi government’s handling of the crisis by celebrities and human rights activists alike.
The Ministry of External Affairs labelled the comments “neither accurate nor responsible”.
“We would like to emphasise that these protests must be seen in the context of India’s democratic ethos and polity,” the ministry said in a statement without naming anyone. “The temptation of sensationalist social media hashtags and comments, especially when resorted to by celebrities and others, is neither accurate nor responsible.”
Shortly after, actors, celebrities and sports personalities in India began tweeting using two hashtags coined by the Ministry of External Affairs, urging unity and denouncing outsider voices as trying to divide the country.
On Wednesday, Kohli was among a host of Indian cricket stars, including former captains Sachin Tendulkar and Anil Kumble, who urged for unity in the country after some international voices like US pop star Rihanna called attention to the plight of the agitating farmers on social media.
“Let us all stay united in this hour of disagreements. Farmers are an integral part of our country and I’m sure an amicable solution will be found between all parties to bring about peace and move forward together,” he had tweeted.
India and England will lock horns in a four-match Test series starting Friday.
In the press conference on Thursday, Kohli confirmed that Rishabh Pant will don the gloves for India in the first Test, praising his recent form and backing him as a match-winner.
(With PTI inputs)
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