36 British MPs back farmers’ protest, want UK to raise issue with India

Updated on Dec 05, 2020 12:35 PM IST
A letter written to British Foreign Secretary by these MPs alleges that the farm laws enacted in India fail to protect farmers from exploitation and ensure fair prices for their produce.
Former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is among the 36 MPs who have sought UK government’s intervention on the three farm laws recently passed in India.(AP Photo)
Former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is among the 36 MPs who have sought UK government’s intervention on the three farm laws recently passed in India.(AP Photo)
Hindustan Times, London | By

Thirty-six British MPs from various parties - including some of Indian origin and others representing many constituents with links in Punjab – have written to British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, asking him to raise the issue of farmers’ agitation with the Narendra Modi government.

Coordinated by Labour MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, the letter seeks an urgent meeting with Raab and an update on representations the foreign office may have made with India on the issue, including during the recent London visit by foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla.

Signatories to the letter include MPs from Labour, Conservative and Scottish National Party, including former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Virendra Sharma, Seema Malhotra, Valerie Vaz, Nadia Whittome, Peter Bottomley, John McDonnell, Martin Docherty-Hughes and Alison Thewliss.

The letter says: “This is an issue of particular concern to Sikhs in the UK and those linked to the Punjab, although it also heavily impacts on other Indian states. Many British Sikhs and Punjabis have taken this matter up with their MPs, as they (are) directly affected with family members and ancestral land in the Punjab”.

Stating that several MPs had recently written to the Indian high commission about the impact of India’s three farm laws, the letter alleges that they fail “to protect farmers from exploitation and to ensure fair prices for their produce”.

British MPs have also been commenting on the farmers’ agitation on the social media in recent days.

Also Read: ‘Canada has scarce interest in the well-being of Indian farmers’, opposes MSP at WTO: BJP

Preet Kaur Gill, Labour MP from Birmingham Edgbaston and chair of the All Party Parliamentary Party for British Sikhs, reacted to images of protests from Delhi: “This is no way to treat citizens who are peacefully protesting over the controversial Farmers Bill in India”.

Also Read: ‘Last day of discussion’: Farmers ahead of talks with Centre on farm laws

“Shocking scenes from Delhi. Farmers are peacefully protesting over controversial bills that will impact their livelihoods. Water cannons, and tear gas, are being used to silence them”, she added on Twitter.

Dhesi posted images from the protests and said: “It takes a special kind of people to feed those ordered to beat and suppress them. I stand with farmers of the #Punjab and other parts of #India, including our family and friends, who are peacefully protesting against the encroaching privatization of #FarmersBill2020”.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Prasun Sonwalkar was Editor (UK & Europe), Hindustan Times. During more than three decades, he held senior positions on the Desk, besides reporting from India’s north-east and other states, including a decade covering politics from New Delhi. He has been reporting from UK and Europe since 1999.

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