India summons UK envoy over farm law debate in London

India on Tuesday called in the British High Commissioner to express its disapproval of the discussions on farmers’ protest and press freedom in the British parliament, reports Asian Lite News

India on Tuesday called in the British High Commissioner to express its disapproval of the discussions on farmers’ protest and press freedom in the British parliament. The 90-minute debate was held on Monday, during which several MPs of the Labour party, Liberal democrats and the Scottish National Party raised concern over the government’s reaction to the protests.

The UK government had responded that concerns will be raised with India when both Prime Ministers meet in person.

The Foreign Secretary made clear that the discussion in the British Parliament represented a “gross interference in the politics of another democratic country.” He advised that British MPs should refrain from practising vote bank politics by misrepresenting events, especially in relation to another fellow democracy.

In December 2020, the government had issued a similar demarche to the Canadian High Commissioner Nadir Patel.

‘Unacceptable interference in internal affairs’

“The Canadian High Commissioner was ..informed that comments by the Canadian Prime Minister, some Cabinet Ministers and Members of Parliament on issues relating to Indian farmers constitute an unacceptable interference in our internal affairs. Such actions, if continued, would have a seriously damaging impact on ties between India and Canada,” the Ministry of External Affairs had said in a statement.

Earlier in the day, the India Indian High Commission in London had criticised Britain for the debate. “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. 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,” the High Commission said in a statement.

The UK government responded saying, “The concerns will be raised with India when both Prime Ministers meet in person.”

Also read:‘New farm bills to benefit small and marginal farmers’

The debate was a response to a petition initiated by Maidenhead Liberal Democrat leader Gurch Singh of Indian origin. The petition received signatures from over a lakh Britishers within weeks.

“All issues raised are the remit of well-established independent democratic institutions in India for addressing the same. It is also a matter of concern that, once again, comments were made to mislead the British Indian community, raising doubts about treatment of minorities in India, alleged human rights violations in ‘Kashmir’ etc,” the Indian High Commission in London said.

Participating in the debate, Robert John Blackman, Conservative Party MP from Harrow East said the farming laws are an issue for the Central and state governments in India to debate and decide. “It is not for the United Kingdom to make comment on, discuss or instruct the Indian government and people of India on what they should do. Many MPs today have spoken in complete ignorance of what is actually going on. The new farming laws are a result of 20 years of negotiations covering many different Indian governments. It is clear that the new farm laws will benefit small farmers and those on low farm incomes,” Blackman said.

Also read:India Slams UK Lawmakers’ Farm Row Debate