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Sunday, Aug 01, 2021

Indian farmers' protest: Activists burn photos of Greta Thunberg over her support for demonstrators

Indian farmers' protest: Activists burn photos of Greta Thunberg over her support for demonstrators

Greta Thunberg is one of a number of high-profile people who have used their star power to shed light on the cause of the farmers.

Police in India are probing a controversial "toolkit" for supporting the country's ongoing farmer protests in the country, tweeted by Greta Thunberg, as angry pro-government activists took to the streets to burn photos of the teenager.

The toolkit - which contained documents guiding people on how to support the protests - was cited in a case filed by Delhi Police, Indian broadcaster NDTV reports.

The case levies charges of sedition, overseas conspiracy, and an attempt to "promote enmity between groups" against the creators of the toolkit, but does not name the 18-year-old climate champion.

However, the case does mention a tweet she sent on Wednesday, sharing the toolkit to her 4.8m followers. She deleted the tweet soon after, but later shared an updated version of the toolkit.

According to NDTV, Delhi Police referred to her tweet in documents that state "one account" had posted a toolkit that "exposes the conspiracy by an organised overseas network" to instigate the farmer protests.

Thunberg has since tweeted again in support of the protests, saying: "I still #StandWithFarmers and support their peaceful protest. No amount of hate, threats or violations of human rights will ever change that."

The influential climate activist, who shot to fame when she started going on strike from school in 2018, is just one of a group of high-profile people who have used their star power to shed light on the cause of farmers, who say reforms introduced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government in September will ruin their livelihoods.

Popstar Rihanna, US Vice President Kamala Harris's niece Meena, and Lebanese American model Mia Khalifa have also showed their solidarity with the farmers.

However, western support for the farmers has drawn anger from leaders and pro-government activists.

Rihanna - who has over 100 million Twitter followers - has shown her solidarity with protesting Indian farmers

Senior government ministers, Indian celebrities and even the foreign ministry have urged people to come together and denounce outsider interference.

"It is unfortunate to see vested interest groups trying to enforce their agenda on these protests, and derail them," India's foreign ministry said, in a rare statement criticising "foreign individuals" posting on social media.

On Thursday, activists from United Hindu Front took to the streets burning effigies of Rihanna and Thunberg.

The reason for the protests is that the new laws around the sale, pricing and storage of produce will - according to the aggrieved farmers - leave growers vulnerable to exploitation by big private companies.

The reforms will allow retailers to buy directly from the farmers, throwing doubt over the previously guaranteed prices they would expect to receive for their crops.

Farmers in front of the historic Red Fort during a protest

Tens of thousands of farmers have been living in makeshift camps on the outskirts of New Delhi for several months and say they will remain in place until the new laws are repealed.

However, Mr Modi says the changes are necessary to modernise Indian farming.

Clashes between those demonstrating and government forces last week left one protester dead and nearly 400 police officers injured.

In response, authorities - who are notoriously sensitive to any form of public criticism - suspended internet access to several areas around the capital, and have previously blocked the Twitter accounts of farmers' leaders and activists.


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