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.”
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.
We welcome the support of @JustinTrudeau Pm Canada for the farmers agitation and urge Bjp govt to accept the legitimate demands of farmers who have contributed to the inclusive development of India and are themselves under a colossal debt leading to widespread suicides-khaira pic.twitter.com/T7WqMvWx51
— Sukhpal Singh Khaira (@SukhpalKhaira) December 1, 2020
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.
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.
Canada has a large Canadian-Punjabi immigrant community, which is wooed by Canadian politicians all the time.