In response to the debate held in the British Parliament on Monday, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla summoned the British High Commissioner today to convey India's strong opposition. Shringla lodged a strong protest against the 'unwarranted and tendentious discussion in the British Parliament on the agricultural reforms. Earlier in the day, the Indian High Commission also issued a strongly worded statement over the 'one-sided discussion' held in Westminster Hall.
In a press statement released on Tuesday, the Foreign Ministry said that Shringla made it clear to the British High Commissioner that the debate on the farm laws represented a 'gross interference in the politics' of another democratic country.
"Foreign Secretary summoned the British High Commissioner and conveyed strong opposition to the unwarranted and tendentious discussion on agricultural reforms in India in the British Parliament. Foreign Secretary made clear that this represented a gross interference in the politics of another democratic country. He advised that British MPs should refrain from practising vote bank politics by misrepresenting events, especially in relation to another fellow democracy," the statement released by New Delhi reads.
The British parliament on Monday, set aside 90 minutes to debate the "safety of farmers" and "press freedom" in India, during which several MPs raised over the Indian government's reaction to the protests. In response to the discussions, the UK government said: "The concerns will be raised with India when both Prime Ministers meet in person."
The debate was held after a petition initiated by Indian-origin UK MP Gurch Singh received signatures from over a lakh residents of the country within weeks. During the debate, Scottish National Party's Martin Day raised concerns over the use of water cannons, tear gas, repeated clashes between police and farmers, and disruption in internet connectivity in the region. Meanwhile, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said that the arrests of journalists was a matter of serious concern.
In a sharp response to the debate in the UK Parliament, the Indian Commission stressed: "The High Commission of India would normally refrain from commenting on an internal discussion involving a small group of Honourable Parliamentarians in a limited quorum. However, when aspersions are cast on India by anyone, irrespective of their claims of friendship and love for India or domestic political compulsions, there is a need to set the record straight."
On January 12, the Supreme Court had stayed the implementation of the three contentious farm laws for two months and asked the committee to submit a report after consulting the stakeholders. The three laws are -- The Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement On Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020. The Union Government has repeatedly said that it is ready to amend three new farm laws to respect the sentiments of farmers protesting against the legislation.