India's High Commission in London criticised the "false assertions"
India has criticised UK MPs for their debate on the farmers’ protest.
On March 8, 2021, several cross-party British MPs debated the issues around the protests.
This included the “use of force” against protestors and journalists being targeted while reporting on the protests.
Labour MP for Ealing Southall Virendra Sharma had said:
“Both sides need to step back and recognise the need to come to an agreement… I hope the government will commit to helping that cause and offer British skills in a negotiation and compromise to help both sides to bring this issue to a close.”
Meanwhile, Slough MP Tan Dhesi stated that many of the farmers, who are Sikh, have been singled out and branded separatists by some elements of the mainstream Indian media.
However, India’s High Commission in London criticised the “false assertions”, saying it was a “distinctly one-sided discussion”.
It said that foreign media outlets had witnessed the events surrounding the farmers’ protest in India first-hand, therefore any “question of lack of freedom of the media in India does not arise”.
In a statement, the 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 said it normally refrains from commenting on an internal discussion involving a small number of parliamentarians.
“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.”
It added that a false narrative was sought to be developed even though “the High Commission of India has been, over a period of time, taking care to inform all concerned about the issues raised in the petition”.
Indian farmers have been protesting for months against agricultural laws.
Thousands have demanded a repeal of three laws that they say will negatively affect their livelihoods.
However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government insist that the laws will improve farmers’ incomes.
The protests have lasted for more than 100 days and the Indian government’s response has attracted international attention.
The government has shut down the internet around the protest sites, arrested demonstrators, activists and even journalists.
SNP MP Martin Day said:
“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.”
Although the issue has attracted international attention, the Indian government has angrily said it was an “internal matter”.
It also warned against celebrities tweeting “sensationalist social media hashtags and comments”.