Farmers at the Maharally held at Barnala in Punjab
Farmers at the Maharally held at Barnala in Punjab

London: India summoned the British High Commissioner on Tuesday and conveyed its strong opposition to the "unwarranted and tendentious" discussion on India's agricultural reforms in the British Parliament.

The Ministry of External Affairs said Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla told the envoy that discussions in the British Parliament on India's farm reforms represented a gross interference in politics of another democratic country.

It said the foreign secretary also advised the envoy that British MPs should refrain from practising "vote bank politics by misrepresenting events", especially in relation to another fellow democracy.

The debate among the law makers was held on Monday evening on British parliamentary premises. It was on an e-petition filed over the right of peaceful protests, against the backdrop of the ongoing farmers’ stir. The issues around the "use of force" against protesters opposed to agricultural reforms in India and journalists being targeted while covering the protests were the focal point of the discussion.0

Such a debate can be held provided an e-petition has crossed the 100,000-signature threshold, which is required for it to be approved by the House of Commons Petitions Committee. The Indian High Commission in London condemned the deliberations as “false assertions” in a “distinctly one-sided discussion”.

“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,” the commission said in a statement.

The Indian mission also pointed out that foreign media, including British media, had been present and witnessed the events surrounding the farmers’ protests in India first-hand and therefore any “question of lack of freedom of the media in India does not arise”.

It lamented that a false narrative over farmers’ protest 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.” The High Commission said it was compelled to react to the lawmakers’ debate due to the apprehensions cast on India.

(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

Free Press Journal