Two US senators urge Biden government to raise farmer’s protests issue with PM Modi
Two top Democratic Senators have called on US President Joe Biden’s administration to raise the issue of farmers’ protests in New Delhi with Indian leaders.
On Thursday, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez and Majority Leader Charles Schumer wrote a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken. In their letter they urged Blinken to engage with Prime Minister Narendra Modi led government in India over the farmers’ protests.
On January 26th, 2021, farmers protesting against the three farm laws introduced by the centre, forcefully entered Red Fort and indulged in vandalism across several parts of the national capital. During their tractor rally, they broke barricades to enter the capital which led to violence.
The top senators, Menendez and Schumer condemned the January 26 violence and wrote that the farm laws passed by the Indian government are “internal Indian Policy”. In their joint letter to Blinken, the two Senators urged Blinken to raise the importance of freedom of speech and the right to peaceful protest in conversations with his Indian counterparts.
From the time he joined the office as secretary of the state, Blinken has spoken with India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar multiple times. However, their conversations did not include farmers’ issue.
The letter that was released to the media read, “While we do not take a position on internal Indian policy matters, we recognize and condemn that on January 26, a small faction of protesters engaged in unacceptable violence at the Red Fort in New Delhi, but protest leaders quickly condemned the violence and the vast majority of protesters remained peaceful.”
It further added, “India’s people and government will determine the path forward on these laws, and peaceful dialogue and respect for the viewpoints of all peaceful actors should drive that decision.”
“As the US pursues a more perfect union here at home, including efforts to bolster the rule of law and our democracy, those efforts reinforce the importance of addressing challenges to democracies abroad as well,” the letter said.
Last year in September, Indian government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi introduced 3 farm laws. After the introduction of the laws, farmers from all across India protested against the laws as they felt that these laws would leave the farmers on the mercy of big Corporates. Since November 28, 2020 the farmers have been camping at several Delhi border points. They want the centre to repeal the laws and provide a legal guarantee on the minimum support price (MSP) for their crops.
In February, the US came out in support of the new farm laws and said that it welcomes steps that would “improve the efficiency” of Indian markets.