Several celebrities and central government ministers on Wednesday tweeted using two hashtags coined by the Ministry of External Affairs in response to global criticism of the Centre’s handling of the farmers’ protests. The ministry had warned against the “temptation of sensationalist social media hashtags and comments”. The two hashtags are #IndiaAgainstPropaganda and #IndiaTogether.
Using the hashtags, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said propaganda cannot affect India’s unity or stop the country from attaining new heights.
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tweeted, “Before rushing to comment on such matters, we would urge that the facts be ascertained, and a proper understanding of the issues at hand be undertaken.”
Meanwhile, Union Minister for Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri said that it was unfortunate that groups with “vested interests” were trying to derail the discussion between the farmers and the government. “We saw this on Republic Day & are seeing it again when some public figures are making statements without ascertaining facts & proper understanding of issues,” he tweeted.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said that “motivated campaigns targeting India” will not be successful. “We have the self confidence today to hold our own,” he tweeted. “This India will push back.”
Union Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports Kiren Rijiju said that that we need to ask who was behind this “international propaganda to defame India”.
Several film and sports personalities also used the hashtag to echo the government’s stand.
Actor Akshay Kumar said that one should support an amicable resolution and ignore people creating differences. “Farmers constitute an extremely important part of our country,” he tweeted. “And the efforts being undertaken to resolve their issues are evident. Let’s support an amicable resolution, rather than paying attention to anyone creating differences.”
Film producer Ekta Kapoor also backed the government, while actor Ajay Devgn advised against falling for anti-India propaganda. “Don’t fall for any false propaganda against India or Indian policies,” he tweeted. “Its important to stand united at this hour w/o [without] any infighting.”
Singer Lata Mangeshkar said that she has “full faith” that India was equipped to resolve amicably any problem the country faces, while keeping the interest of its citizens in mind.
Actor Kangana Ranaut, who had lashed out at musician Rihanna immediately after the singer’s tweet on the farmers protests, tweeted Wednesday night using the Centre’s hashtags too.
Filmmaker Ashoke Pandit pointed that India does not have a credible Opposition and the one that exists are a “nuisance in the path of progress” of the country.
“We live in turbulent times and the need of the hour is prudence and patience at every turn,” filmmaker Karan Johar said. “Let us together, make every effort we can to find solutions that work for everyone – our farmers are the backbone of India. Let us not let anyone divide us.”
Actor Sunil Shetty wrote: “We must always take a comprehensive view of things, as there is nothing more dangerous than half truth.”
Former cricketer Sachin Tendulkar urged people to remain together as a country. “India’s sovereignty cannot be compromised,” he tweeted. “External forces can be spectators but not participants. Indians know India and should decide for India. Let’s remain united as a nation.”
Anil Kumble, former cricketer and coach of the Indian team, said that the country was more than capable of taking its “internal issues to amicable solutions”.
India opener Shikhar Dhawan called to stand together and move forwards towards a bright future.
“We as a country have issues to resolve today and will have issues to resolve tomorrow as well, but that doesn’t mean we create a divide or get perturbed by external forces,” cricketer Suresh Raina tweeted. “Everything can be resolved through amicable and unbiased dialogue.”
Table tennis player Manika Batra said that no propaganda can deter India’s unity. “India stands united and together to achieve new heights,” she tweeted. Badminton player Saina Nehwal said the effort taken to resolve the problems related to the farm laws were evident. “Let’s support an amicable resolution, rather than paying attention to anyone creating differences,” she said.
The external affairs ministry first used the hashtags earlier on Wednesday, after musician 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.