- The UK puts its nose in a place where it has no business
- The British Parliament sets aside 90 minutes to debate about the “Safety of farmers” and “press freedom” in India
- Indian High Commission in London speaks up and calls out the hypocrisy
On Monday, a debate help by the British Parliament on the “safety of farmers” as well as the “press freedom” in India has evoked a sharp response from the Indian High Commission in London.
In a statement, the Indian High Commission said, “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”.
It also read, “Foreign media, including the British media, are present in India and have witnessed the events under discussion first-hand.
“The question of lack of freedom of the media in India does not arise”.
On Monday, the British Parliament particularly set aside 90 minutes just to debate the “safety of farmers” and “press freedom” in India. Several Members of Parliament of the Labour party, Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party raised concerns over the Indian government’s reaction to the protests.
The UK Government responded by saying, “The concerns will be raised with India when both Prime Ministers meet in person.”
The debate came in as a response to a petition which was initiated by Maidenhead Liberal Democrat leader Gurch Singh who has an Indian origin. The petition received signatures from over one lakh UK residents within weeks.
Martin Day of the Scottish National Party started the debate with the opening remarks: “The UK government has already stated that the farm reforms are a matter for the Indian government’s decision. So we are not debating the reforms now. We are debating the safety of the protesters.
“Water cannons and tear gas and repeated clashes between police and farmers and interruption in internet connectivity have been matters of concern. Several farmers have reportedly committed suicide.”
Responding to the various opposition MPs raising concerns over the safety of farmers and journalists in India, UK Minister of State for Asia Nigel Adams said Britain’s “close ties with India doesn’t hinder the nation from raising concerns”.
Jeremy Corbyn, Labour leader, said, “The unprecedented protests should make one think about why so many are turning up. The arrests of journalists is a matter of serious concern.”
Conservative Member of Parliament Theresa Villiers, however, shared support for the Indian government’s response saying, “We receive complaints against policemen here in the UK too when there are mass protests. That doesn’t mean the UK is against democracy”.
The Indian High Commission, London, in a statement, said, “The High Commission of India would normally refrain from commenting on an internal discussion involving a small group of Honourable Parliamentarians in a limited quorum.
“However, when aspersions are cast on India by anyone, irrespective of their claims of friendship and love for India or domestic political compulsions, there is a need to set the record straight.”
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was supposed to travel to India in January to attend the Republic Day celebrations in Delhi, however, the trip had to be postponed amid a surge in the number of coronavirus cases in the UK, particularly those of the fast-spreading new UK variant.
UK Prime Minister’s trip is seen as a strong indication of the UK hoping to further strengthen its ties with India after Brexit.
A proposed trade deal is to be discussed by the UK PM among several other matters.
The farmers are protesting against the 3 new farm laws and began at the borders of the national capital in November. Last month, the government had given an unprecedented reaction after pop star Rihanna, climate activist Greta Thunberg and US and UK lawmakers threw weight behind the demonstrations. The Foreign Ministery had said, “We would like to emphasise that these protests must be seen in the context of India’s democratic ethos and polity, and the efforts of the government and the concerned farmer groups to resolve the impasse,” in a statement.