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Thursday, February 25, 2021

Tweet tit for tat: Now Maharashtra probes posts by Indian celebs

Indian celebrities from various fields, including Lata Mangeshkar, Sachin Tendulkar and several Bollywood stars, had tweeted using hashtags #IndiaTogether and #IndiaAgainstPropoganda.

Written by Mohamed Thaver | Mumbai |
February 9, 2021 3:17:09 am
Anil Deshmukh, Farmers protest, rihanna tweet, sachin tendulkar tweet, lata Mangeshkar tweet, indian express newsAnil Deshmukh

MAHARASHTRA HOME Minister Anil Deshmukh on Monday ordered the State Intelligence Department (SID) to conduct an inquiry into whether some celebrities in the country were under pressure to tweet at the behest of the central government on the farmers’ protest.

The government’s order is in response to a complaint by the Congress alleging that some of the tweets put out by celebrities such as Akshay Kumar and Saina Nehwal were identical and may have been under duress and that words like ‘amicable’ were used in most tweets indicating they were provided a script by the BJP. It also sought that “protection be provided to these celebrities from the BJP if the need arises”.

Last week, in the wake of tweets by foreign celebrities such as singer Rihanna and climate activist Greta Thunberg, who tweeted in support of the farmers’ protests in India, Indian celebrities from various fields, including Lata Mangeshkar, Sachin Tendulkar and several Bollywood stars, had tweeted using hashtags #IndiaTogether and #IndiaAgainstPropoganda.

In a virtual meeting between Deshmukh — who is under quarantine after he tested positive for Covid earlier this week — and Congress party spokesperson Sachin Sawant, Deshmukh said, “Based on the issue raised by the Congress party, I have asked the SID… to conduct an inquiry in the matter. They have been asked to check if the celebrities were under any pressure to tweet particular things by the central government.”

During the 28-minute talk, Deshmukh said, “… It appears that 60-70 days have passed (since the protests). Till January 26 it was going peacefully but the incident on January 26, the farmers who were so peaceful… suddenly what happened on that day…it appears that an attempt was made to malign the farmers’ protest…”

He added, “… all over the world there are reactions… celebrities like Rihanna and others too have reacted… after that in India our celebrities from different fields like Lata Mangeshkar, Sachin Tendulkar, Akshay Kumar… also tweeted… we don’t know if it is their personal thought or if it is under some pressure..”

Referring to suspicions raised by Sawant over similarly worded tweets by Kumar and Nehwal, Deshmukh said, “Not a single word is different… and also, all of them tweeted around the same time. We have seen media is under duress… anyone who gives statement against BJP has ED and CBI proceedings against them. Everyone has seen this… we will definitely inquire the objections you have raised… especially the tweet by Sunil Shetty where he tagged a BJP member…”

Sawant pointed out that Shetty had tagged Mumbai BJP vice president Hitesh Jain in his tweet.

Earlier, the Congress in its statement said, “Since India is the largest democracy … the democratic traditions in India are a model for the entire world. Therefore, the world is expressing its concern about the undemocratic system adopted by the Modi government… While the central government does not respond to any individual opinion in such a situation, it responded to the tweet of Rihanna, an American pop star, followed by a number of similar tweets by Bollywood and sports celebrities.”

“If someone is expressing his own opinion on a personal level, there is no reason to object as that person has a Constitutional right, but if it is done under pressure from anyone, it must be investigated. Confirmation of the suspicion that some tweets were done under pressure comes to light after carefully analysing the tweets.”

The statement added that “it is the duty of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government to create an environment in which the right to opinion can be exercised without any pressure”. Sawant also demanded protection from the government for the celebrities.

The BJP called the government’s order for a probe “deplorable”. “Has this MVA Govt lost all its senses? MVA should feel ashamed while using the word ‘probe’ for Bharat Ratnas. Actually, now it seems necessary to probe the mental state & stability of the ones who made such demand & of people who ordered probe against our BharatRatnas,” Opposition leader Devendra Fadnavis tweeted.

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