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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 12/26/20

7 US legislators urge Pompeo to raise the issue of Indian farmers' protest

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Seven US legislators have written to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo requesting him to raise with his Indian counterpart the issue of farmer's protest continued for the last four weeks.

Thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana and UP have been protesting at the borders of Delhi since November 26 demanding to scrap the three farm laws. Calling these laws as "anti-farmer", these farmers believe that the newly enacted bills would dismantle the minimum support price system, leaving them at the "mercy" of big corporations.

At least 25 people have died, several of them due to the biting cold weather, during the four-week protest by farmers. On December 16, a 65-year-old priest, Sant Baba Ram Singh, committed suicide near the Singhu border in Delhi. According to his suicide letter, he shot himself as he was unable to bear the "pain of farmers".

This issue in particular concerns the Sikh Americans community connected to Punjab, although it also heavily affects the Indian Americans belonging to other Indian states, the lawmakers said in their letter to Pompeo dated December 23.

"Many Indian Americans are directly affected as they have family members and ancestral land in Punjab and are concerned about the well-being of their families in India. Given this serious situation, we urge you to contact your Indian counterpart to reinforce the United States'' commitment to the freedom of political speech abroad," the US lawmakers said adding:

As a nation that is familiar with political protests and has seen many such agitations in its history, thus, can offer guidance to India during their current period of social disturbance.

The legislators went on to say: "As national legislators, we respect the right of the government of India to determine national policy, in compliance with existing law. We also acknowledge the rights of those in India and abroad who are currently protesting peacefully against agricultural laws that many Indian farmers see as an attack on their economic security."

In sending the letter Indian-American Democrat Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal join five other democrats - Donald Norcross, Brendan F Boyle, Brian Fitzpatrick, Debbie Dingell and David Trone. Republican Congresswoman, Mary Gay Scanlon joined the fellow Democrats to sign the letter to the Secretary of State.

India has called the remarks by foreign leaders and politicians on protests by farmers as "ill-informed" and "unwarranted", asserting that the matter pertains to the internal affairs of a democratic country.

"We have seen some ill-informed comments"relating to farmers in India. Such comments are unwarranted, especially when pertaining to the internal affairs of a democratic country," External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said earlier this month.

Over the past few weeks, more than a dozen US Congressmen have expressed their worry about the ongoing protest by the farmers in India.

Earlier this month, Congressman John Garamendi, Co-Chair of the American Sikh Caucus, along with Congressman Jim Costa and Congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee -members of the American Sikh Caucus- sent a letter to Indian Ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu, expressing solidarity with the protestors and defending their right to peaceful protest.

Democratic American lawmaker David Trone on Tuesday asked the Indian government to give safety to the protesting farmers and praised the Centre's proposals of discussion with the farmers' unions and India's Supreme Court suggestion to establish a mediation.

Not surprisingly, the Punjabi Diaspora in Canada has expressed shock over Indian government's use of police force and brutality on farmers who are democratically protesting against the contentious farm laws.

Several Canadian lawmakers of Punjabi descent have asked the Indian government to engage in an open dialogue with the farmers as their livelihoods are going to be impacted.

Expressing solidarity with the farmers, Canadian Defense Minister, Harjit Sajjan, said that the reports of peaceful protesters being brutalized were very troubling.

"Many of my constituents have family there and are worried about the safety of their loved ones. Healthy democracies allow peaceful protest. I urge those involved to uphold this fundamental right," he tweeted.

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Abdus-Sattar Ghazali Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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