Kangana Ranaut, a staunch Bharatiya Janata Party supporter, called farmers protesting controversial agriculture laws terrorists in a tweet, which was one of two that the platform had removed.

Bollywood actress Kangana Ranaut leaves the Bandra police station after she was summoned in connection with a sedition case, in Mumbai on January 8, 2021.
Bollywood actress Kangana Ranaut leaves the Bandra police station after she was summoned in connection with a sedition case, in Mumbai on January 8, 2021. (AFP)

Twitter has deleted two tweets by a well-known Bollywood actor, one of which labelled protesting Indian farmers as “terrorists”, citing violation of the platform’s rules.

Kangana Ranaut, who is also know for her staunch support to India's ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has repeatedly labeled farmers, who protesting against a new law, as terrorists.

Ranaut had earlier called pop star Rihanna a "fool" after the US singer voiced support for the farmer protests at the Singhu border in Delhi.

Rihanna, who has more than 100 million Twitter followers, wrote "why aren't we talking about this?!", with a link to a news story about an internet blackout at the protest camps where tens of thousands of farmers have been since November.

More than one million people retweeted, liked or commented on her Tweet.

Ranaut also called climate activist Greta Thunberg a "rat" for her message of solidarity and unity with the farmers, the NDTV reports.

READ MORE: India opposition boycotts Parliament in support of protesting farmers

'Sensationalist' tweets

The celebrity tweets triggered an online storm in India, where the months-long protests have become the biggest challenge to Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi since he took power in 2014.

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

Sporting legend Sachin Tendulkar, cricket's highest scoring international, led the Twitter riposte by Indian celebrities.

"India's sovereignty cannot be compromised. External forces can be spectators but not participants," he said.

Actors and directors Anupam Kher, Akshay Kumar, Suniel Shetty and Karan Johar joined the fray against the "foreigners."

READ MORE: Prominent figures shine spotlight on Indian farmers’ protests

Government threatens Twitter

The government later threatened Twitter with "penal action" for unlocking 250 accounts and tweets on the farmers' protests that the US company had earlier blocked. 

Twitter took the initial action following a government notice, but reversed course after a few hours.

Among accounts targeted was a prominent news magazine and others linked to farmer unions.

The Electronics and IT ministry said Twitter had "unilaterally" unblocked the accounts and content and that it was "obliged" to obey government orders.

India has also faced criticism from media watchdogs over the arrest of a journalist covering the protests and investigations launched into five others, who could face sedition charges.

READ MORE: Indian government, farmers talks remain deadlocked

Farmer protests

Modi's government has held multiple rounds of talks with representative s of farmers who have camped in their thousands on the outskirts of the capital since late 2020, but there has been no word on when talks would resume following the storming of India's red Fort on Republic Day.

The farmers, who enjoy most support in northern India's breadbasket states, argue that three new farm laws will hurt their interests while benefiting large firms.
But the government says the reforms will bring much-needed investment to a farm sector, that accounts for nearly 15% of India's $2.9 trillion economy but employs about half its workforce.

India has the world’s second largest amount of agricultural land within its borders, however the Indian agricultural sector is on the brink of failure as it is plagued with crop failures and farmer suicides, TRT World's research centre found.

There has been a steady increase in the number of farmer suicides over the last two decades with more than 300,000 farmers committing suicide between 1995 and 2015 according to India's National Crime Records Bureau.

As thousands of farmers are taking their life and are trapped in the cycle of debt and poverty, corporate “friendly” government policies have provided tax concessions of around $75 million between 2015-2016, the report adds.

READ MORE: Angry farmers storm India's Red Fort in massive tractor rally

Source: TRTWorld and agencies