The Indian High Commission in the United Kingdom has written an open letter to British Member of Parliament (MP) Claudia Webbe, one of Britain's staunchest critics of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new farm laws, in an effort to assuage concerns over the legislation.
“Though the Government of India has suggested numerous ways to address their apprehensions, including postponing implementation of the acts or amendment of the same, these options have been summarily rejected by them (the farmers),” read the Indian High Commission's letter, which was posted on its official Twitter account.
“The above information is shared by your excellency to dispel any misgivings with regard to the objectives of the reforms, the ability of those having reservations to protest peacefully and the willingness of the government of India to address all concerns in a manner most acceptable to the protesting farmer unions,” it adds.
The letter from the Indian mission notes that Webbe’s Leicester East parliamentary constituency has one of the largest Indian-origin populations in the United Kingdom, and goes on to warn against “vested interests” trying to fuel the farmer protests.
“… The government of India is more than aware of efforts by vested interests abroad to fuel the protests through misinformation and incendiary assertions that are not helpful in progressing the dialogue between the protests and the government or addressing issues through democratic processes that our people have traditionally relied on,” states the open letter.
"The High Commission of India would therefore reiterate its offer that your constituents — British citizens having family ties or business linkages with the agricultural sector in India would be most welcome to address their concerns to the High Commission of India through their representatives — after duly studying the clarifications issued by our Mission on our website and through social media."
The Indian High Commission has further assured in its letter that the farmers participating in the protest rallies have been treated with “utmost respect” and “restraint” by the police and authorities, in the wake of criticism of New Delhi’s handling of the agitation.
It also cited the speech delivered by the Indian President Ram Nath Kovind during a joint federal parliamentary sitting on 29 January 2021, in which Kovind claimed that the benefits of the farm laws had already begun to accrue to more than 100 million Indian farmers.
The letter to Webbe comes a day after she raised concerns over the arrest of Indian environmentalist Disha Ravi at weekend over allegedly sharing a “toolkit” spelling out online and offline means to support the protesting Indian farmers.
Disha Ravi is 21; a student & climate activist— Claudia Webbe MP (@ClaudiaWebbe) February 15, 2021
Nodeep Kaur is 24; a labourer & Union activist
Both women were targeted, arrested & imprisoned for peacefully supporting the #FarmersProtest
This suppression is driven by authoritarianism & free market capitalism
Don’t Be Silent
The United Kingdom has witnessed public protests as well as appeals by British parliamentarians cutting across party lines, the latter calling upon Prime Minister Boris Johnson to take up the matter with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.
“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," said a letter to PM Johnson by a group of 100 British MPs last month.
"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," it added.