Expressing ‘serious concern’ over the ‘ongoing civil unrest’ in India, i.e., the farmers’ protest, a group of seven American lawmakers – six Democrats and a Republican, have written to the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The letter asked Mr. Pompeo to reach out to his counterpart, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, on the issue.
The letter written on 23 December reads “As a nation that is familiar with political protests, we believe that the United States can offer counsel to India during their current period of social disturbance.”
Thousands of farmers from States like Punjab and Haryana have been engaging in a ‘Dilli Chalo’ (march on Delhi) protest for a month against the agricultural laws passed by the Parliament in September this year.
“As national legislators, we respect the right of the government of India to determine national policy, in compliance with existing law. We also acknowledge the rights of those in India and abroad who are currently protesting peacefully against agricultural laws that many Indian farmers see as an attack on their economic security,” read the letter.
“In particular, we are compelled to reach out to you after seeing in the international press that protesting farmers from Punjab, who were marching peacefully to Delhi, was brutally subjected to water cannon attacks, barbed wire barricades, and tear gas by Indian security personnel,” the U.S. Members of Congress (House of Representatives) said in their letter.
“This is an issue of particular concern to Sikh Americans linked to Punjab, although it also heavily impacts the Indian Americans belonging to other Indian states. Many Indian Americans are directly affected as they have family members and ancestral land in Punjab and are concerned for the well-being of their families in India,” added the letter.
“In view of this serious situation, we urge you to contact your Indian counterpart to reinforce the United States’ commitment to the freedom of political speech abroad,” read the letter authored by Democrats Donald Norcross (New Jersey), Brendan F. Boyle (Pennsylvania), Pramila Jayapal (Washington), Debbie Dingell (Michigan), Mary Gay Scanlon (Pennsylvania), David Trone (Maryland) and Republican Brian Fitzpatrick (Pennsylvania).
Earlier on 30 November, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his concerns over the farmers’ protests. “I would be remiss if I didn’t’ start by recognizing the news coming out of India about the protests by farmers. The situation is concerning and we are all very worried about the families and friends. Let me remind you, Canada will always be there to defend the right to peaceful protest. We believe in the importance of dialogue and that’s why we have reached out through multiple means to Indian authorities, to highlight our concerns,” stated PM Trudeau.
However, following the comments by the Canadian Prime Minister, the Ministry of External Affairs has summoned the High Commissioner of Canada and warned that the comments made by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau could have a seriously damaging impact on ties between India and Canada.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Anurag Srivastava called the said comments ill-informed and unwarranted.