“The situation is very concerning. We’ve reached out to the Indian authorities,” Trudeau said.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has become the first international head of government to speak out on the protests by farmers in India against the Narendra Modi government’s new farm laws.
This is what he said in a video put out to wish Canadian citizens, particularly those of the Sikh faith, on the occasion of Gurupurab:
“I would be remiss if I didn’t start by recognising the news coming from India about the protest by farmers. The situation is concerning. We are all very worried about family and friends. We know that’s a reality for many of you. Let me remind you, Canada will always be there to defend the rights of peaceful protesters. We believe in the process of dialogue. We’ve reached out through multiple means to the Indian authorities to highlight our concerns. This is a moment for all of us to pull together.”
This video was put out on the evening of 30 November in Canada, which is the morning of 1 December in India. This was an event on Zoom organised by MP Bardish Chagger who is a member of Trudeau’s party and represents Waterloo in Ontario. The event was also attended by Canada’s Defence Minister Harjeet Singh Sajjan and Minister for Innovation Science and Technology Navdeep Singh Bains.
Earlier, Harjit Sajjan had written on Twitter:
“The reports of peaceful protesters being brutalized in India are very troubling. Many of my constituents have family there and are worried about the safety of their loved ones. Healthy democracies allow peaceful protest. I urge those involved to uphold this fundamental right.”
Responding to Trudeau’s remarks, India’s external affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said, “We have seen some ill-informed comments by Canadian leaders relating to farmers in India. Such comments are unwarranted, especially when pertaining to the internal affairs of a democratic country.”
Srivastava added, “It is also best that diplomatic conversations are not misrepresented for political purposes.”
Despite India saying that this is its “internal matter” it is possible that international scrutiny could make it difficult for the Modi government to pursue an openly hostile approach towards the protesting farmers.
Politicians from Canada have been the most vocal in coming out in support of the protesting farmers and criticising the Modi government’s handling of the agitation.
The Quint had reported on 30 November that Canadian politicians like New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh, Leader of Opposition in Ontario Andrea Horwath and Members of Ontariao’s Provincial Parliament Gurratan Singh, Kevin Yarde, Sara Singh and Jack Harris, had slammed the Modi government.
Politicians in the United Kingdom such as Labour Party leaders Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, Preet Kaur Gill and John McDonnell have also spoken out.