After supporting the farm protest, India blocked the Twitter account of Canadian bhangra-rap star Jazzy B

Jaswinder Singh Bains-known internationally as bhangra-rap star Jazzy B-said that fans who could not see his Twitter account in India at the weekend started to send messages At that time, he was shocked.

Then he received an email from Twitter confirming that he was blocked by his home country for allegedly violating India’s Information Technology Act. He said the email did not provide detailed information about why he was censored.

“I’m really shocked. I don’t know-it’s a shameful thing… Everyone has the right to express their ideas,” said Baines, who grew up in Surrey, British Columbia and came to Canada as a child. .

Baynes said he believes the social media shutdown is a response to his outspoken support of Indian farmers who have protested against India’s controversial new agricultural law in the past six months.

He said he felt connected with them and spent 25 days protesting against farmers (some in their 70s or 80s) in November and December to “feel their pain.”

He also commemorated the attack on the Golden Temple in Amritsar, Punjab. It is estimated that thousands of Sikhs were killed after Indian government troops attacked the Golden Temple in June 1984.

Baines was with an agricultural worker during his visit to India at the end of 2020. (Submitted by Jaswind Singer Baines)

“Disturbing” review

Balpreet Singh, the legal adviser of the World Sikh Organization of Canada, said that Baynes is just the latest star to face censorship after criticizing the Indian government. Australian Sikh rapper L-Fresh the Lion has also recently faced Twitter restrictions.

Singh described Baynes’ tweet as “boring” for the Indian government, “but not as a crime or promoting violence-so India’s taking this step must be disturbing.”

They are not the only celebrities who have angered the Indian government.

Pop superstar Rihanna and youth climate activist Greta Thunberg angered the Indian government after they both tweeted in February to support farmers in protesting the new reforms passed by India last fall.

Rihanna’s tweet on February 2 only asked “Why don’t we talk about this?” Refer to the Indian government’s move to shut down public Internet access after the protests turned into violence during the Republic Day celebrations in January.

Rihanna’s tweets (including the hashtag #FarmersProtest) spread to her 101 million followers, arousing worldwide attention and the anger of the Indian government.

Farmers are disturbed by India’s abolition of the system of selling crops in auctions to the National Agricultural Commission, which guarantees the lowest prices.

India believes that the new reforms give farmers more freedom to sell directly to buyers, other states or large grocery chains. But many farmers worry that the new law will allow big companies to lower prices.

India’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that increased market competition can actually increase farmers’ income.

“These reforms expand market access and provide farmers with greater flexibility,” the ministry said in a statement after Rhianna’s tweet.

“Before rushing to comment on such matters, we will urge to find out the facts… The lure of sensational social media tags and comments, especially when used by celebrities and others, is neither accurate nor responsible .”

Singh said the backlash from social media comments is so inflammatory in India that some social media workers are scared.

“It’s too bad. Facebook and Twitter employees in India have expressed their fear of their lives. They may be threatened by what happens on their platforms.”

CBC News has sought advice from the Consul General of India in Vancouver, Arindam Bagshi, Minister of Foreign Affairs of India, Amit Shah, Minister of Interior of India, and Twitter.

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