- PM Boris Johnson confuses the ongoing farmers’ agitation against the agricultural laws in India with the Indian and Pakistan conflict
- The UK PM reply baffles the Sikh MP who asked him to say about India’s farmers protest during the weekly Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) session
- The opposition lawmaker, Mr. Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi went ahead and condemned the PM on Twitter
Two different issues seemed to confuse British Prime Minister Boris Johnson when he reiterated the position of the UK government that any conflict between India and Pakistan was for the two countries to resolve bilaterally.
During the weekly Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) session at the House of Commons, MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi asked Johnson to comment on the ongoing Indian protests that have seen tens of thousands of farmers camp in the outskirts of Delhi for more than two weeks now.
MP Tanmanjeet said, “Many constituents, especially those from Punjab and other parts of India, and I were astonished to see footage of water cannons, teargas and brute force being used against farmers protesting peacefully.” The 42 years old MP further added, “It was heart-warming, however, to see those very farmers feeding those forces who were ordered to beat or suppress them. What an indomitable spirit and what kind of individuals it takes to do that.”
The Opposition lawmaker questioned PM Boris Johnson and said, “So will the Prime Minister express our heartfelt anxieties to the Indian Prime Minister (Narendra Modi), our hopes for a rapid resolution of the present deadlock, and will he acknowledge that everyone has a fundamental right to peaceful protest.”
Many were horrified to see water cannon, tear gas and brute force being used against farmers peacefully protesting in India about #FarmersBill2020.— Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi MP (@TanDhesi) December 9, 2020
Everyone has the fundamental right to protest peacefully.
But it might help if our PM actually knew what he was talking about! pic.twitter.com/EvqGHMhW0Y
In his brief response, however, Boris Johnson instead went on to discuss a completely unrelated matter.
“Our view is that we have serious concerns about what is happening between India and Pakistan, of course, but these are pre-eminently issues for the two governments to resolve and I understand that he appreciates that point,” said the UK Prime Minister.
Tanmanjeet Dhesi, who has expressed his support to the farmers and initiated a letter promising support for the protests in a video, looked surprised at Johnson’s reaction. He took to Twitter later to condemn the prime minister.
The Sikh MP wrote, “But it might help if our PM actually knew what he was talking about!”
So far, the UK government has refused to be dragged into India’s ongoing protests, with the International, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) claiming that it was an internal matter of dealing with protests.
An FCDO spokesperson said last week, following a letter initiated by Mr Dhesi and signed by 35 other UK MPs on the subject, “The police handling of protests is a matter for the government of India.”
Since November 26, thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana and many other states have been protesting along the various borders of Delhi, demanding the repeal of the three farm laws enacted in September.
The farmers believe that the newly enacted laws will pave the way for the abolition of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the mercy of large companies, dubbing these laws as ‘anti-farmer’. The government, however has maintained that the new laws would bring better opportunities for farmers and incorporate new farming technologies.