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Read India’s Response To US calls for dialogue to resolve farmer protests.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

 


New Delhi: The Biden administration said on Thursday in its first comments on the farmers' agitation that it supports disagreements to be resolved through dialogue and that peaceful protests are a "hallmark" of a "thriving democracy," leading India to compare reactions to violence at the Red Fort to those seen after the storming of Capitol Hill.

The US also stated that it supports measures to increase India's markets' productivity and attract further investment, which New Delhi interprets as an acknowledgment of the country's agricultural reform efforts.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) stated that it has taken note of the US State Department's comments and the US Embassy in Delhi and that it needs to see them all.

“Both India and the US are thriving democracies with similar values.

At a press conference, MEA Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said that the incidents of violence and vandalism at the historic Red Fort on January 26 elicited similar sentiments and reactions in India as the incidents on Capitol Hill on January 6 and that they are being dealt with in compliance with our respective local laws.

He explained that the temporary restrictions on internet access in some parts of the National Capital Region (NCR) were necessary to avoid more abuse.

The MEA Spokesperson emphasized the importance of understanding the context in which the US made its remarks.

We have taken notice of the US State Department's remarks. It's important to consider such remarks in their entirety and in the sense in which they were made,” he said.

“As you'll see, the US State Department supports India's agricultural reform efforts.” Any demonstrations, he said, must be seen in the light of India's democratic ethos and polity, as well as the government's and concerned farmer groups' ongoing efforts to break the impasse.

In response to media questions about the demonstrations, the State Department in Washington and the US embassy in Delhi issued virtually identical statements.

“We acknowledge that peaceful demonstrations are a hallmark of every healthy democracy, as the Indian Supreme Court has reported. Any disputes between the parties should be addressed through mediation, according to a US embassy spokesperson.

The government and farmer unions have been in a deadlock for many rounds of talks. On November 28, protests at the Delhi border to revoke three controversial agri laws enacted in September began.

“In general, the United States welcomes measures that would increase the productivity of India's markets and encourage more private sector investment,” the state department official said, suggesting that the new Biden administration supports India's agricultural reform efforts.

In response to the issue of internet service restrictions at protest sites, a US embassy spokesperson said, "We understand that unlimited access to information, including the internet, is fundamental to the freedom of expression and a hallmark of a vibrant democracy." The new US administration's responses came on the heels of tweets from American pop star Rihanna and climate activist Greta Thunberg expressing solidarity for the farmers, which brought the escalating protests into the international spotlight.

Aside from Rihanna and Thunberg, several other notable figures have expressed their support for the protesting farmers, including Meena Harris, an American lawyer and niece of US Vice President Kamala Harris, actress Amanda Cerni, singers Jay Sean and Dr. Zeus, and former porn star Mia Khalifa.

ON WEDNESDAY, the MEA said that the "temptation" of sensationalist social media hashtags and comments is "neither accurate nor responsible," in a strong response to the foreign celebrities' remarks.

Srivastava also said at the press conference that India has requested mutual legal assistance from the United States for an inquiry into the case of ‘Sikhs for Justice and Referendum 2020.'

“As per procedure, the request was sent directly to the US Department of Justice (DoJ) by the concerned authorities,” he said.

Several American lawmakers have also spoken out in support of the Indian farmer demonstrations.

Congresswoman Haley Stevens expressed her concern about reported actions against peaceful protesters in India opposing new agricultural reform laws.

In a tweet, she urged the Indian government and protesting farmers' representatives to participate in constructive dialogue.

“I will keep monitoring this situation closely. Engaging with stakeholders from around the district on this topic has been particularly helpful, and I am grateful to everyone who has reached out to share their thoughts,” says the superintendent. Stevens said.

Ilhan Omar, a congresswoman from Minnesota, shared her support for all farmers protesting for their livelihood across India.

She wrote on Twitter, "India must protect their basic democratic rights, allow for the free flow of information, restore internet access, and release all journalists detained for covering the protests."

Meena Harris said that the world's largest democracy is under attack, referring to the farmers' protests.

The “historic” farmers' protest is turning out to be the “biggest-ever revolution” against the Indian government's crony capitalism, according to Gurinder Singh Khalsa, chairman of the Sikhs Political Action Committee.

“This is the start of a campaign against crony capitalism that demands greater accountability and transparency. The world has been watching, and it has now begun to respond and mobilize in support of India's historic agricultural revolution. This would be bigger than India's independence movement,” said Khalsa, who is based in Indiana.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), India's new farm regulations have the "potential to mark a major step forward" in agricultural reforms.

“We believe the farm bills have the potential to be a major move forward in India's agricultural reforms. Farmers will contract directly with sellers, keep a larger share of the surplus by reducing the position of go-betweens, improve production, and support rural development, according to IMF Communications Director Gerry Rice, who spoke to reporters in Washington last month.

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