Actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha on Friday spoke out against the coordinated pushback against international celebrities supporting the two-month-long farmers' protest, saying it amounted to interference no more than Prime Minister Narendra Modi's endorsement of Donald Trump ahead of the US elections.
The Congress leader also asked whether the Indian celebrities who led the government-backed social media campaign against tweets by the likes of US-based pop star Rihanna and climate activist Greta Thunberg felt compelled to join the drive.
"This tweet business by international celebrities, we highly appreciate that. After all, our own Prime Minister has said a couple of times that we are living in a global community. It is not only an issue of India but the issue of our farmers who have been sitting for 70-75 days for their most justified demands and almost zero-degree temperatures and facing all the obstacles," Mr Sinha said.
"They have shown the new face of an andolan (protest) which is being highly appreciated all over the world. And today the world celebrities like Greta Thunberg or Rihanna or Kamala Harris's niece. They have shown their concern and as a citizen of the global community, I highly appreciate that," he said.
"What is the harm? And what has Rihanna written? She said 'Why are we not talking about the farmers' issue'. This is something we all must. Farmers deserve justice," Mr Sinha said.
"Our own honourable Prime Minister, had very recently, in the United States of America had asked for 'Abki Baar Trump Sakar'. Would you take that as an interference in the internal affairs of America? No. Raising voice against Nazi suppression of Jews in Germany is not interference either. When we talk about Tiananmen Square, China, it doesn't mean we are interfering in China's internal affairs. So, if they are showing their concern, love and affection, it should be highly appreciated," he added.
Speaking about his daughter Sonakshi Sinha, also an actor who called out the concerted campaign spurred by ministers, Indian missions abroad and supporters of the ruling BJP that roped in Indian celebrities, Shatrughan Sinha said it was clear "some of the people were also pressurised".
"Sonakshi is a very brave child. And of course, she also believes in principles like her father. And she has shown her guts and courage by coming out openly and boldly in favour of the farmers' most justified demands," he said.
"Some of our people who came out with similar and identical tweets, you think they have done it on their own? No way. They never came out when farmers were sitting hungry in almost zero-degree temperatures. They never said farmers need justice," Mr Sinha said.
"They are a handful of people from our industry and very nice people. Individually, I put them on a high pedestal. Nonetheless, they have come out with identical tweets. Are they under some duress? Is it the fear factor working on them?" he said.