On Thursday, Anurag Srivastava, spokesman for the Ministry of External Relations (MEA), related the ongoing farmers’ protests in India over new agricultural laws to the storming of the US Capitol on January 6 by supporters of former US President Donald Trump, while hailing the two nations as “vibrant democracies”
The MEA spokesperson referred to an earlier US State Department statement calling for discrepancies to be addressed through mediation between protesting Indian farmers and the Modi-led BJP government in the ongoing confrontation.
He said the “violence and vandalism at the historic Red Fort on Jan 26 have evoked similar sentiments […] as did the incidents on the Capitol Hill” Srivastava further claimed that, based on their related reactions to the events, India and the US were “vibrant democracies with shared values”
India had “taken note” of the remark, Srivastava said, but in its original sense “and in their entirety” it was necessary to judge such remarks. “Any protest must be seen in the context of India’s democratic ethos and polity and [the] ongoing efforts of [the] government and concerned farmer groups to resolve the impasse.”
He pointed out that in its release, the US State Department had recognised the measures taken by the Indian government towards agricultural reforms.
The MEA spokesperson said the demonstrations were being handled in compliance with the applicable local laws and “understandably undertaken to prevent further violence” were temporary steps such as curtailing internet services in the National Capital Area.
“We encourage dialogue to resolve any differences between the parties,” the US State Department said in an earlier statement, which also gave general support for government initiatives to “improve the effectiveness of India’s markets and attract greater investment from the private sector.”
Although acknowledging the legitimacy of the farmers’ demonstrations, the statement said that “peaceful protests are a hallmark of any thriving democracy” It also claimed that “unhindered access to information, including the internet, is fundamental to the freedom of expression”
On Wednesday, India similarly slammed foreign celebrities for making remarks as false and reckless in favour of protesting farmers and said vested interest groups were seeking to create opinion against the government.
“The Indian Foreign Ministry said, “We must advise that the truth be decided and a thorough understanding of the problems at hand be done before rushing to comment on such matters,
Comments on social media were made by US singer Rihanna, climate change activist Greta Thunberg and US lawyer and activist Meena Harris, niece of Vice-President Kamala Harris, drawing attention to the plight of the farmers protesting.
For more than two months, tens of thousands of farmers have been camping out on the outskirts of New Delhi, demanding the revocation of new agricultural laws that they argue, at the detriment of growers, favour private buyers.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government says agriculture sector reform will offer opportunities for farmers.
On January 26, when farmers burst into the historic Red Fort complex, the protests turned violent, with one protester killed and hundreds wounded.
So far, any progress has not been made by negotiations between the government and the protest leaders.