#FarmersProtest: India urges fact-based reactions from international community

#FarmersProtest: India urges fact-based reactions from international community

India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) called on the international community to base its reactions and responses in relation to the protests by farmers in the country on the complete picture and full facts.

In a statement shared widely across social media platforms, the MEA highlighted that the Parliament of India, after a full debate and discussion, passed reformist legislation relating to the agricultural sector. These reforms give expanded market access and provide greater flexibility to farmers. They also pave the way for economically and ecologically sustainable farming.

“A very small section of farmers in parts of India have some reservations about these reforms. Respecting the sentiments of the protestors, the government of India has initiated a series of talks with their representatives. Union Ministers have been part of the negotiations, and eleven rounds of talks have already been held. The government has even offered to keep the laws on hold, an offer iterated by no less than the Prime Minister of India,” the statement notes.

Vested interests

The Indian government flagged the unfortunate involvement of vested interest groups trying to enforce their agenda on the protests and derail them.

The MEA said: “This was egregiously witnessed on January 26, India’s Republic Day. A cherished national commemoration, the anniversary of the inauguration of the Constitution of India, was besmirched, and violence and vandalism took place in the Indian capital.

“Some of these vested interest groups have also tried to mobilise international support against India. Instigated by such fringe elements, Mahatma Gandhi statues have been desecrated in parts of the world. This is extremely disturbing for India and for civilised society everywhere.”
In a message for celebrities taking to social media, the MEA added: “Before rushing to comment on such matters, we would urge that the facts be ascertained, and a proper understanding of the issues at hand be undertaken.

“The temptation of sensationalist social media hashtags and comments, especially when resorted to by celebrities and others, is neither accurate nor responsible. "

Safety concerns

Meanwhile, an e-petition on the UK Parliament website has attracted over 107,000 signatures, calling for a public statement from the UK government over the issue of the protests.

“Petitions that receive 100,000 signatures will be considered for a debate in Parliament. Debates in Westminster Hall – where petitions debates take place – are currently suspended, but Committee will make an announcement on scheduling this debate as soon as possible,” a House of Commons spokesperson said.

If such a debate goes ahead, it would be an opportunity for the complete facts around the issue to be highlighted.

Meanwhile, the Commonwealth Journalists Association (CJA) and Indian Journalists’ Association (IJA) in the UK expressed concern over the arrest of journalists covering the protests and urged the Indian government to ensure the safety of journalists in the country.

A UK government spokesperson said: “Media freedom is vital for the protection of human rights and journalists all around the world must be free to do their job and to hold authorities to account without fear of arrest or violence.

“Free press plays a crucial role in our democracies and the Government are putting their full weight behind this including through our membership of the Media Freedom Coalition.”

The Media Freedom Coalition was formed in July 2019 at the Global Conference for Media Freedom. It is a partnership of countries working together to advocate for media freedom and safety of journalists and hold to account those who harm journalists for doing their job.

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