Eastern Times, January 10, 2021, New Delhi: More than 100 concerned British members of Parliament across parties and some peers have written a letter to their Prime Minister Boris Johnson on January 5, urging him to take up the ongoing farmers’ protests in India, with his counterpart Prime Minister Narendra Modi at their next interaction.
Since Johnson, who had been invited as the chief guest for the Republic Day celebrations on January 26, has called off his India visit due to a fresh spread of Corona virus in the UK, the two premiers will not be meeting now, but are expected to interact soon.
In a letter, the MPs have asked Johnson to press for a “speedy resolution of the current deadlock and the democratic human right of citizens to peacefully protest.” Constituents of these MPs include a huge population of the Indian diaspora, with many from farming backgrounds and with many who are connected to Punjab.
The letter has been written by Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, an MP from Slough and has over 100 signatories.
The letter of was shared by Dhesi on Twitter on Friday. It came the day that Johnson cancelled his scheduled trip to India, amid a growing crisis created by the new strain of the novel coronavirus in the UK.
“Many constituents, especially those emanating from Punjab and other parts of India, were horrified to see the use of water cannons, tear gas and brute force being used on hundreds of thousands of peacefully protesting farmers.
The issue has so galvanised the Indian diaspora community, especially those of a Punjabi or Sikh background, and others who have land or links to farming in India, that tens of thousands engaged in global protests, including in towns and cities across the UK,” the letter noted.
It also stated that another letter was previously sent to UK foreign secretary Dominic Raab and the MPs had been assured that the issue would be taken up with the Indian government.
But while he took it up with external affairs minister S Jaishankar, Raab failed to do so with PM Modi when he met him in December, the letter to Johnson noted.
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The MPs have now asked Johnson to confirm that he will take up the matter with Modi at the earliest. “Given the urgency of the matter, can you please confirm that you will definitely convey to the Indian Prime Minister the heartfelt anxieties of our constituents, our hopes for a speedy resolution of the current deadlock and also for the democratic human right of citizens to peacefully protest,” it noted.
The letter also claimed that Johnson ‘misunderstood’ the protests in India.
While responding to a question on the protests by the Slough MP in the UK Parliament on December 9, Johnson referred to Pakistan saying the issue was for “those two governments to settle”.
The MP’s have now asked Johnson to clarify his stance on the protests. “Could you please respond to clarify your understanding of this important issue? Do you indeed agree that everyone has the fundamental right to engage in peaceful protest,” the letter said.
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