Rihanna on Tuesday created a flutter in India by wading into months-long farmer protests against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s agricultural reforms. Tens of thousands of young and old farmers have blocked roads leading into New Delhi for more than two months, sheltering in tractors from the cold.

A tractor rally by farmers last week in New Delhi turned violent. Police responded by shutting down the internet, digging ditches, driving nails into roads and topping barricades with razor wire to prevent farmers from entering the capital again.

“Why aren’t we talking about this?!” Rihanna said in a Twitter post, sharing a CNN article on the demonstrations with her 100.9 million followers on the platform, using the hashtag #FarmersProtest.

RELATED STORIES

The same article was shared by teen climate activist Greta Thunberg, who also expressed solidarity with the farmers.

US Vice President Kamala Harris’ niece Meena Harris also extended her support to the protest, writing: “We ALL should be outraged by India’s internet shutdowns and paramilitary violence against farmer protesters.”

https://twitter.com/meenaharris/status/1356747965713371138?s=20

Similarly, Mia Khalifa and John Cusack also extended their support to the protesting farmers.

The international celebrity tweets triggered an online storm in India, where the farmers’ protests have become one of the biggest challenges to Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi since he took power in 2014. Modi has asserted the laws are necessary to modernise India’s agriculture sector, but farmers fear they would be placed at the mercy of big corporations.

India’s government has bristled at international remarks on the protests, calling them an “internal matter”.

In an official statement, the foreign ministry said that the celebrities needed “a proper understanding of the issues”.

“The temptation of sensationalist social media hashtags and comments, especially when resorted to by celebrities and others, is neither accurate nor responsible,” read the statement, with the hashtags #IndiaTogether and #IndiaAgainstPropaganda.

“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 added.

Meanwhile, Kangana Ranaut, a vocal Modi supporter, responded to Rihanna by calling the protesting farmers “terrorists” and Rihanna a “fool” and an “American porn stars”. She also called Thunberg a “dumb and spoilt brat.”

Similarly, Akshay Kumar offered traction to MEA’s statement by sharing it and writing: “Let’s support an amicable resolution, rather than paying attention to anyone creating differences.”

India — the world’s biggest democracy — regularly uses internet shutdowns to limit information sharing during disturbances.