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Friday, April 16, 2021

India conveys strong opposition to British envoy over ‘unwarranted’ discussion on farm laws

The government's reaction comes after a group of around dozen cross-party British MPs debated issues around the farmers' protest in India in the British Parliament based on an e-petition.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: March 9, 2021 8:21:47 pm
Farmers protest at Ghazipur border in New Delhi. (Express Photo: Amit Mehra)

The Centre on Tuesday summoned the British High Commissioner in India and conveyed its strong opposition to the “unwarranted and tendentious” discussion on the three new farm laws in the British Parliament.

The government’s reaction comes after a group of around dozen cross-party British MPs debated issues around the farmers’ protest in India in the British Parliament based on an e-petition. The MPs questioned the Indian government’s alleged “use of force” against farmers protesting against the new agri laws and journalists being “targeted” while covering the protests.

In a statement, the Ministry of External Affairs said, “Foreign Secretary summoned the British High Commissioner and conveyed strong opposition to the unwarranted and tendentious discussion on agricultural reforms in India in the British Parliament.”

“Foreign Secretary made clear that this represented a gross interference in the politics of another democratic country,” it added.

The ministry said the Foreign Secretary advised that British MPs should refrain from practicing “vote bank politics by misrepresenting events, especially in relation to another fellow democracy”.

Earlier in the day, the High Commission of India in London condemned the debate as “false assertions” in a “distinctly one-sided discussion”. “We deeply regret that rather than a balanced debate, false assertions — without substantiation or facts — were made, casting aspersions on the largest functioning democracy in the world and its institutions,” the commission said in a statement after the Monday evening debate on an e-petition.

The debate was held in response to an e-petition which had crossed the 100,000-signature threshold, required for it to be approved by the House of Commons Petitions Committee. The Indian High Commission made its displeasure known despite the British government earlier reiterating that the three New Delhi laws on agricultural reform were a “domestic matter”.

Farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, have been camping at several Delhi border points, including Tikri, Singhu and Ghazipur, since November last year. While the farmers demand a complete repeal of the three farm laws and a legal guarantee on the minimum support price (MSP) for their crops, the government has denied allegations that it was trying to put an end to the MSP and the mandi system.

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