New Delhi, Dec 1: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has expressed its concerns over protests by thousands of farmers in India, subtly nudging Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government in New Delhi to resolve the issue through dialogue.
Trudeau spoke on the issue after several lawmakers of Canada expressed solidarity with the agitating farmers in India. Some of the Canadian lawmakers even criticised the way security forces of India dealt with the protesters. So did some lawmakers in the United Kingdom too.
“I would be remiss if I didn’t start by recognizing the news coming from India about the protest by farmers. The situation is concerning,” Trudeau said in a video message greeting the Sikhs of Canada on the occasion of “Gurupurab” – the birth-anniversary of Guru Nanak. “We are all very worried about family and friends. I know that’s a reality for many of you.”
In response to such comments, the official 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. It is also best that diplomatic conversations are not misrepresented for political purposes.”
The majority of the farmers marching towards New Delhi protesting against the new agricultural laws enacted by the Modi Government are Sikhs from Punjab and Haryana. The police used barricades and water cannons to stop them from entering into Delhi. With the numbers of agitators camping at the entry points to the national capital swelling, the government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the Centre advanced to Tuesday the talks with the leaders of the protesters initially scheduled to take place on Thursday.
“Let me remind you, Canada will always be there to defend the rights of peaceful protesters. We believe in the process of dialogue,” Canadian PM said. “We believe in the process of dialogue,” he added, tacitly calling upon his counterpart in New Delhi to resolve the situation through talks with the agitating farmers.
Nearly 500,000 Sikhs account for about 1.4% of the total population of Canada, but the House of Commons or the lower house of the national parliament of the North American nation now has 18 members from the community – more than even the number in the Lok Sabha of India.
Trudeau has three Sikh ministers in his cabinet – Harjit Singh Sajjan, Navdeep Singh Bains and Bardish Chagger.
The Canadian Prime Minister also indicated that his government in Ottawa had already got in touch with New Delhi to convey its concern over the protests by the farmers and to stress on the need to hold dialogue with the protesters.
“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,” said Trudeau.
Sajjan, the defence minister in Trudeau’s Government, earlier referred to the “troubling” reports about the police action on agitating farmers in India. “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,” he posted on Twitter. “Healthy democracies allow peaceful protest. I urge those involved to uphold this fundamental right.”
Jagmeet Singh, a leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada, called the police action on protesters “appalling”. “The violence perpetrated by the Indian govt against farmers peacefully protesting is appalling. I stand in solidarity w/ (with) the farmers from Punjab and across India – and, I call on the Indian govt (Government) to engage in peaceful dialogue rather than violence,” he posted on Twitter.