Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar
Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar

As international pop star Rihanna and teen climate activist Greta Thunberg brought global attention to the farmers' protest, India on Wednesday said that resorting to sensationalist social media hashtags and comments, especially by celebrities and known public figures, is neither accurate nor responsible.

The statement by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) was issued after several people from the international community came out in support of the farmers' protest against the Centre's new agriculture laws.

"The Parliament of India, after a full debate and discussion, passed reformist legislation relating to the agricultural sector. These reforms give expanded market access and provide greater flexibility to farmers. They also pave the way for economically and ecologically sustainable farming," the MEA said.

"A very small section of farmers in parts of India have some reservations about these reforms. Respecting the sentiments of the protestors, the Government of India has initiated a series of talks with their representatives. Union Ministers have been part of the negotiations, and eleven rounds of talks have already been held. The Government has even offered to keep the laws on hold, an offer iterated by no less than the Prime Minister of India," the MEA added.

"Yet, it is unfortunate to see vested interest groups trying to enforce their agenda on these protests, and derail them. This was egregiously witnessed on January 26, India’s Republic Day. A cherished national commemoration, the anniversary of the inauguration of the Constitution of India, was besmirched, and violence and vandalism took place in the Indian capital."

It said some of these vested interest groups have also tried to mobilise international support against India. "Instigated by such fringe elements, Mahatma Gandhi statues have been desecrated in parts of the world. This is extremely disturbing for India and for civilised society everywhere," it added.

The statement further said that Indian police forces have handled the protests with utmost restraint. "It may be noted that hundreds of men and women serving in the police have been physically attacked, and in some cases stabbed and seriously wounded."

"We would like to emphasise that these protests must be seen in the context of India’s democratic ethos and polity, and the efforts of the Government and the concerned farmer groups to resolve the impasse," it said.

"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. The temptation of sensationalist social media hashtags and comments, especially when resorted to by celebrities and others, is neither accurate nor responsible."

Rihanna, Thunberg, and US Vice President Kamala Harris' niece are among the several people from the international community who have voiced support for farmers in India.

Thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana, and western Uttar Pradesh, have been protesting at Delhi's borders for over two months against the laws.

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