India today issued a strong demarche to the United Kingdom over an ”unwarranted and tendentious discussion on agricultural reforms in India” in the House of Commons, describing it as a gross interference in the politics of another democratic country.
Foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla summoned the British High Commissioner to the foreign office and told him that British MPs should refrain from practising vote bank politics by misrepresenting events, especially in relation to another fellow democracy.
Earlier in the day, the Indian High Commission in London issued a statement on the debate on press freedom in India and the safety of farmers protesting against the agri laws, saying the discussion was distinctly one-sided and false assertions were made without substantiation or facts.
“The High Commission of India has taken note of a distinctly one-sided discussion among a group of H’ble UK Parliamentarians in a Westminster committee room in response to an e-petition. We deeply regret that rather than a balanced debate, false assertions ~ without substantiation or facts ~ were made, casting aspersions on the largest functioning democracy in the world and its institutions,” the statement said. It expressed concern that comments were made during the debate to mislead the British Indian community, raising doubts about the treatment of minorities in India, alleged ‘human rights’ violations in Kashmir etc. It pointed out that foreign media were present in India and witnessed first-hand the events under discussions. “The question of lack of freedom of media in India does not arise.”
The statement said the Indian mission would normally refrain from commenting on an internal discussion of UK Parliamentarians in a limited forum. However, when aspersions were cast by anyone, irrespective of their claims of friendship and love for India or for domestic political compulsions, there was a need to set the record straight.
The debate witnessed concerns being raised by several MPs of the Labour Party, Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party over the Indian government’s response to the farmers’ protests. The UK government later responded saying that the “concerns will be raised with India when both Prime Ministers meet in person.” The debate followed a petition initiated by Maidenhead Liberal Democrat leader Gurch Singh which received the support of over 100,000 UK residents.