Farmers protesting the centre’s contentious agriculture laws say they will write to British political leaders and ask them to stop UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson – who will be the chief guest at next month’s Republic Day celebrations – from traveling to India till their demands are met.
“The UK Prime Minister is scheduled to visit India on January 26. We are writing to British MPs asking them to stop him from visiting India till the time farmers’ demands are not met by the Indian government,” Kulwant Singh Sandhu, a farmer leader from Punjab, was quoted by news agency ANI.
Last week Mr Johnson, whose country is also battling an aggressive mutant strain of the coronavirus, said it would be a “great honour” to attend India’s Republic Day celebration.
Should it take place, this will be his first major bilateral visit since he taking charge in 2018, and make him only the second British leader – after John Major in 1993 – to attend Delhi’s Republic Day parade.
Thousands of irate farmers across India are protesting against three laws passed by the centre in September. The farmers say the laws will rob them of access to MSP and leave them at the mercy of corporates. The centre says the laws will help farmers get better prices for their produce.
Multiple rounds of talks have failed, with neither side willing to budge from their positions; the farmers want the laws repealed, while the centre is only willing to amend the problematic sections.
Last week Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched yet another defence of the controversial laws, saying he was ready “with folded hands” to discuss every issue with farmers and allay their fears.
The protest, which has been backed by opposition parties, trade unions and large swathes of the civil society, has also been noted by members of the international community.
Earlier this month Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau repeated his support for farmers’ right to mount peaceful protests, hours after the centre summoned his country’s High Commissioner to express displeasure at his original remarks.
In the UK, 36 MPs wrote to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab two weeks ago, asking him to make representations with his Indian counterpart, S Jaishankar, about the impact on British Punjabis.
India has called such remarks by foreign leaders and politicians “ill-informed” and “unwarranted” as the matter pertained to the internal affairs of a democratic country.
On Sunday the farmers asked Indians living abroad to approach their respective embassies on December 2 and 27, and urge the centre to withdraw the agriculture laws.
With input from ANI