Why international politics over Indian farmers is a dangerous trend
Farmers in India are currently protesting against agricultural reforms. A few politicians outside India have appointed themselves the spokespersons of the Indian farmers.
At the forefront of this is Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada, who has presented himself as the guardian of liberal values around the world. Recently, Trudeau lectured India on peaceful protests. To this, India responded firmly by summoning the Canadian High Commissioner - a demarche was issued.
The Indian External Affairs Minister withdrew from an event hosted by Canada in protest. How did Trudeau respond to India's anger? The Canadian PM shrugged and put forth a lesson on fundamental rights. Justin Trudeau says that Canada will stand for the right to peaceful protest, which is commendable. But does he extend the same courtesy to Canadian citizens?
Has Justin Trudeau - upheld the right to protest for his own citizens?
In February 2020, Canada saw its own share of protests, and blockades. As part of this, rail crossings were closed, passenger and freight trains were disrupted in addition to layoffs. Many even feared there would be a fuel shortage.
Who was protesting and why?
The indigenous community was protesting against a gas pipeline that would run through their territory. The community leaders claimed that they never approved of the project. But soon after, a police crackdown followed.
A series of arrests was made in northern British Columbia. One of the community leaders said the police brought: "a whole damn army there". They also conducted a raid, which only made the situation worse. What started as a local issue, turned into a nationwide campaign for a national shutdown.
Did Trudeau hail the peaceful protestors of his country and speak up for their rights? Justin Trudeau said that blockades are "unacceptable and untenable".
When Canadians protest, Trudeau wants them to respect the rule of law. When Indian farmers protest and blockade, Trudeau turns it into an issue of human rights. In a video statement, Trudeau said that Canada wants to "defend the rights of peaceful protests". Blockades are as unacceptable in India as in Canada, especially in the middle of a pandemic.
The Canadian prime minister is not alone in practising this hypocrisy. Opposition leader Erin o’Toole said his party is watching the situation in India. Leader of the New Democrats Jagmeet Singh accused the Indian government of "perpetrating violence". His party launched an online petition calling on Trudeau to speak out.
People with separatist connections laid siege on the Indian High Commission in London over the weekend.
Pro-Khalistan groups were on the streets, protesting with Khalistan flags. The Khalistan movement is a secessionist movement, and members of this group assassinated an Indian prime minister.
Those protesting in India are Indian farmers. Those hijacking their cause sitting in Canada and the UK are not.
36 British MPs have now written to the British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab - asking him to raise the issue with India. Protests were also seen in the United States, New Zealand and Australia.
Indian farmers have grievances, which they are addressing through the right to protest. The government is talking to them, and multiple rounds of talks have happened. The efforts to internationalise India's farmer protest are being led by vested interests.