On US remarks on farm stir, India says ‘must see comments in entirety’

MEA justified the internet restrictions in certain parts of NCR saying it was to prevent further violence

India-US
Effective June 5, 2019, the US terminated India's eligibility under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) programme | Photo: iStock

India’s foreign ministry on Thursday said it has “taken note” of the US State Department’s statement on farmers’ protest, which came following a global call for solidarity by popular personalities like musician Rihanna and climate activist Greta Thunberg, and added that its comments in this context must be seen in their entirety.

“We have taken note of the comments of the US State Department. It is important to take such comments in the context in which they are made and in their entirety,” stated Anurag Srivastava, MEA Spokesperson, on the country’s reaction to the ongoing protests against the Centre’s three agriculture laws.

The US State Department acknowledged steps being taken by India towards agricultural reforms, said Srivastava. Any protest must be seen in context of India’s polity and ongoing efforts of government and concerned farmers’ groups to resolve impasse, he added.

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“The incidents of violence and vandalism at the Red Fort on January 26 have evoked similar sentiments and reactions in India as Capitol Hill incident,” said the MEA Spokesperson while referring to the January 6 violence in US wherein a mob supporting then outgoing President Donald Trump had laid siege to the Capitol Hill.

The ministry further justified the restrictions on internet access in certain parts of National Capital Region saying it was to prevent further violence.

Related news | US welcomes farm laws, but says peaceful protests a sign of democracy

In its first reaction to the ongoing farmers’ agitation, the new US administration said on Thursday it encourages any differences between the parties be resolved through dialogue even as it backed steps that can improve the efficiency of India’s markets and attract greater investment.

The US also said peaceful protests and unhindered access to the internet are “hallmark” of a “thriving democracy”. The remarks were made by the State Department in Washington and the US embassy in Delhi in response to questions on the over two-month-long protests by farmers at the national capital’s borders.

Farmers’ protest prompted a global call for solidarity two days ago with musician Rihanna, the fourth most-followed celebrity on Twitter, posting about it. Rihanna was then joined by Greta, US Vice-President Kamala Harris’ niece Meena Harris, actor Amanda Cerni, singers Jay Sean and Dr Zeus, and former adult star Mia Khalifa, in voicing support for farmers.

Related news | Greta unfazed by criticism: ‘Still stand with farmers, no threat will change that’

The Indian government on Wednesday reacted sharply to these tweets with and then many Bollywood and cricket stars, including Akshay Kumar, Sachin Tendulkar, and Virat Kohli, and top ministers rallying around the government in its pushback.

The “temptation of sensationalist social media hashtags and comments” is neither accurate nor responsible, the Ministry of External Affairs said. “Facts must be ascertained before the rush to comment,” it said, using hashtags #IndiaTogether and #IndiaAgainstPropaganda to make its point.

(With inputs from agencies)

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