US secretary of state Mike Pompeo has been approached by a group of seven US lawmakers, including Congresswoman of Indian origin Pramila Jayapal, to rake up the issue of farmers’ protest in India. Pompeo has been asked to take up the issue with his counterpart in India.
The seven lawmakers who have signed the letter to Pompeo include Pramila Jayapal, Donald Norcross, Brendan F Boyle, Mary Gay Scanlon, Debbie Dingell, David Trone and Brian Fitzpatrick.
Notably, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had also supported the peaceful protest of the farmers and expressed concern over the issue.
What did US lawmakers say?
In a letter dated December 23, the lawmakers said it is an issue of particular concern to Sikh Americans linked to Punjab, although it also heavily impacts the Indian Americans belonging to other Indian states.
“Many Indian Americans are directly affected as they have family members and ancestral land in Punjab and are concerned for the well-being of their families in India. In view of this serious situation, we urge you to contact your Indian counterpart to reinforce the United States’ commitment to the freedom of political speech abroad,” they said.
In their letter, the lawmakers said that the US as a nation that is familiar with political protests can offer counsel to India during their current period of social disturbance.
“As national legislators, we respect the right of the government of India to determine national policy, in compliance with existing law. We also acknowledge the rights of those in India and abroad who are currently protesting peacefully against agricultural laws that many Indian farmers see as an attack on their economic security,” the lawmakers said.
Indian government says “internal matter”
The Union government has called the remarks by foreign leaders and politicians as ill-informed and unwarranted. The government has clarified that it is India’s internal matter.
External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava had earlier said, “We have seen some ill-informed comments relating to farmers in India. Such comments are unwarranted, especially when pertaining to the internal affairs of a democratic country.”
Thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana and several other states have been protesting on various borders of Delhi since November 26, seeking repeal of three farm laws enacted in September.
Dubbing these laws as “anti-farmer”, these farmers claim that the newly enacted legislations would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the “mercy” of big corporations.
However, the government has maintained that the new laws will bring farmers better opportunities and usher in new technologies in agriculture. There have been multiple rounds of talks between representatives of the protestors and the Indian government but the logjam continues.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has termed the farm laws as “historic”. He has repeatedly attacked the Opposition for misleading the farmers.
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