India blocks Canadian bhangra-rap star Jazzy B’s Twitter account after he helps farm protests

Jaswinder Singh Bains — identified internationally as bhangra-rap star Jazzy B — says he was shocked when messages started coming in over the weekend from followers who could not see his Twitter account in India.

Then he obtained an e mail from Twitter confirming that he’d been blocked from his dwelling nation for allegedly violating India’s Information Technology Act. He mentioned the e-mail supplied no particulars about why he was censored.

“I was really shocked. I had no idea — It’s a shameful thing to do … everybody has the right to speak their mind,” mentioned Bains, who grew up in Surrey, B.C., after coming to Canada as a baby.

Bains says he is satisfied the social media shutdown is in response to his outspoken in assist of Indian farmers who have spent the previous six months protesting controversial new agricultural legal guidelines in India.

He says he feels a connection to them and spent 25 days dwelling amongst protesting farmers, some of their 70s or 80s, in November and December to “feel their pain.”

He additionally commemorated the raid on the Golden Temple in Amritsar, Punjab, where it is estimated hundreds of Sikhs died after Indian government troops stormed it in June 1984. 

Bains is seen with an agricultural employee throughout his go to to India in late 2020. (Submitted by Jaswinder Singh Bains)

‘Disturbing’ censorship

Balpreet Singh, authorized counsel with the World Sikh Organization of Canada, says Bains is simply the latest star to face censorship after criticising the Indian government. Australian Sikh rapper L-Fresh the Lion has additionally confronted current Twitter restrictions.

Singh described Bains’s tweets as “irksome” to the Indian government “but not criminal or promoting violence — so it’s certainly disturbing that India has taken this step.”

They’re not the one celebrities to impress the Indian government.

Pop famous person Rihanna and teenage local weather activist Greta Thunberg angered the Indian government in February after each tweeted assist for farmers protesting new reforms handed in India final fall.

A single tweet from Rihanna on Feb. 2 merely requested “Why aren’t we talking about this?” in reference to the Indian government’s transfer to close off public web entry after protests turned violent throughout Republic Day celebrations in January.

Rihanna’s tweet, which included the hashtag #FarmersProtest, went out to her 101 million followers, attracting each world consideration and the ire of the Indian government.

The farmers are upset India has achieved away with the system below which they bought their crops at public sale to a state produce committee which assured a minimal value.

India argues the new reforms permit farmers extra freedom to promote on to patrons, other states or massive grocery chains. But many farmers worry the new legal guidelines will permit massive firms to drive down costs.

India’s Ministry of External Affairs says elevated market competitors might really enhance farmers’ revenue.

“These reforms give expanded market access and provided greater flexibility to farmers,” the ministry mentioned in a press release after Rhianna’s tweet.

“Before rushing to comment on such matters, we would urge that the facts be ascertained …The temptation of sensationalist social media hashtags and comments, especially when resorted to by celebrities and others, is neither accurate nor responsible.”

Singh says the backlash over social media commentary is so incendiary in India that it is frightened some social media staffers.

“It’s so bad that Facebook and Twitter employees in India have expressed fear for their lives that they may be threatened because of what’s happening on their platforms.” 

CBC News has requested the Indian consul common in Vancouver, the Indian Minister of External Affairs Arindam Bagshi, Indian Home Minister Amit Shah and Twitter for remark.

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