A large number of farmers and their supporters gather during the Kisan Mahapanchayat in Shamli on Friday
A large number of farmers and their supporters gather during the Kisan Mahapanchayat in Shamli on Friday

New Delhi: The United Nations' human rights body on Friday asked both authorities and protesters in India to exercise maximum restraint during the farmers protest as it asserted that the rights to peaceful assembly and expression should be protected both offline and online.

"#India: We call on the authorities and protesters to exercise maximum restraint in ongoing #FarmersProtests. The rights to peaceful assembly & expression should be protected both offline & online. It's crucial to find equitable solutions with due respect to #HumanRights for all," the United Nations Human Rights office said.

Meanwhile, the leadership of the powerful Congressional India Caucus has urged the Indian government to ensure that the norms of democracy are maintained and the protesters are allowed to demonstrate peacefully and have access to the Internet, as it discussed the issue of the ongoing farmers' agitation in the country.

Congressman Brad Sherman, Co-Chair of the Congressional India Caucus said that he convened a meeting with his other Republican Co-Chair Congressman Steve Chabot, and Vice-Chair Congressman Ro Khanna to speak with India's Ambassador to the US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu, regarding the farmers demonstrations in India.

Thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, have been camping at three Delhi border points -- Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur -- for over 70 days, demanding a complete repeal of three central farm laws.

Multiple rounds of talks between the Government and the farmer unions have remained deadlocked. The protests at the Delhi borders for repeal of the three contentious agri laws that was enacted in September last began on November 28.

This comes amid hightened global attention on farmers protest and tweets by various celebs including pop star Rihanna and climate activist Greta Thunberg. The Delhi Police has even launched a probe on a "toolkit" shared by teen climate activist Greta Thunberg and others on Twitter in connection with the farmers' protest.

In a strong response to the remarks made by foreign individuals and entities, the MEA had on Wednesday said the "temptation" of sensationalist social media hashtags and comments is "neither accurate nor responsible".

External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said any protests must be seen in the context of India's democratic ethos and polity, and the ongoing efforts of the government and the concerned farmer groups to resolve the impasse.

"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 provided greater flexibility to farmers. They also pave the way for economically and ecologically sustainable farming," the MEA said in the statement.

(With PTI inputs)

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