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Canada’s Justin Trudeau backs farmers’ protest; India says remarks ‘ill-informed’

"Let me remind you, Canada will always be there to defend the rights of peaceful protesters. We believe in the process of dialogue. We’ve reached out through multiple means to the Indian authorities to highlight our concerns. This is a moment for all of us to pull together,"Justin Trudeau said.

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi |
Updated: December 1, 2020 5:24:14 pm
Man who crashed gate where Trudeau lives facing 22 chargesFILE PHOTO: Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is the first foreign political leader to have voiced his concern on farmers protests in India. (Reuters)

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday extended his support to farmers who have been protesting against the three farm laws, noting that the situation is “concerning”.

Speaking on the occasion of Gurupurab to his Canadian-Punjabi constituents, Trudeau said, “I would be remiss if I didn’t start by recognising the news coming from India about the protest by farmers. The situation is concerning. We are all very worried about family and friends. We know that’s a reality for many of you. Let me remind you, Canada will always be there to defend the rights of peaceful protesters. We believe in the process of dialogue. We’ve reached out through multiple means to the Indian authorities to highlight our concerns. This is a moment for all of us to pull together.”

This is the first time a foreign leader has voiced his opinion on the farmers’ protests in India.

However, the Indian government reacted sharply and called the remarks made by Canadian leaders as “ill-informed” and “unwarranted”. The Ministry of External Affairs official spokesperson said, “we have seen some ill-informed comments by Canadian leaders relating to farmers in India. Such comments are unwarranted, especially when pertaining to the internal affairs of a democratic country. It is also best that diplomatic conversations are not misrepresented for political purposes.”

Farmers protest, Farm Bills 2020, Punjab farmer protest, Punjab, Govt farmer talks, Indian Express Protesting farmers shout slogans as they clash with policemen on Nov. 27, 2020. (AP Photo: Altaf Qadri)

For the last five days, thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh have been marching toward the national capital and are nearing the borders. Peaceful sit-ins by farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, continued for the sixth straight day today at the Singhu and Tikri borders, while the numbers of protestors swelled at the Ghazipur border.

Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan also tweeted about the protests. “The reports of peaceful protesters being brutalized in India are very troubling. Many of my constituents have family there and are worried about the safety of their loved ones. Healthy democracies allow peaceful protest. I urge those involved to uphold this fundamental right,” he wrote on Twitter.

Farmers at Singhu border

Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi also objected to Trudeau’s remark and told him not to play politics using “India’s internal issue as fodder”. “Dear @JustinTrudeau, touched by your concern but Indias internal issue is not fodder for another nations politics. Pls respect the courtesies that we always extend to other nations. Request PM @narendramodi ji to resolve this impasse before other countries find it okay to opine,” tweeted Chaturvedi, a Rajya Sabha member.

farmers protest, Farmers protests For the last five days, thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh have been marching toward the national capital and are nearing the borders. (Express photo by Amit Mehra)

Farmers’ protest Explained: What are their big concerns, what can the government negotiate

Canada has a large Canadian-Punjabi immigrant community, which is wooed by Canadian politicians all the time.

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