- "Protests must be seen in context of India's democratic ethos": Centre
- Reforms were cleared by parliament after full debate, it added
- Unfortunate to see vested interest groups enforcing agenda, it stressed
With Rihanna, Greta Thunberg and many other prominent foreign voices taking the farmers' protest to the world stage with their tweets, the government today put out a sharp and unprecedented response warning against the "temptation of sensationalist social media hashtags and comments" and said the protests were by "a very small section of farmers" in parts of India.
"We would like to emphasise that these protests must be seen in the context of India's democratic ethos and polity, and the efforts of the government and the concerned farmer groups to resolve the impasse," the foreign ministry said in the statement , which included the hashtags #IndiaTogether and #IndiaAgainstPropaganda.
"Before rushing to comment on such matters, we would urge that the facts be ascertained, and a proper understanding of the issues at hand be undertaken. The temptation of sensationalist social media hashtags and comments, especially when resorted to by celebrities and others, is neither accurate nor responsible."
The government said the Parliament of India after debate and discussion passed "reformist legislation relating to the agricultural sector" and the reforms "give expanded market access and provided greater flexibility to farmers." The laws also paved the way for economically and ecologically sustainable farming, the foreign ministry stressed.
"A very small section of farmers in parts of India have some reservations about these reforms," said the statement, adding that the government, "respecting the sentiments of the protestors", has initiated talks. "The Government has even offered to keep the laws on hold, an offer iterated by no less than the Prime Minister of India," the government said.
"Yet, it is unfortunate to see vested interest groups trying to enforce their agenda on these protests, and derail them. This was egregiously witnessed on January 26, India's Republic Day. A cherished national commemoration, the anniversary of the inauguration of the Constitution of India, was besmirched, and violence and vandalism took place in the Indian capital.
"Some of these vested interest groups have also tried to mobilise international support against India. Instigated by such fringe elements, Mahatma Gandhi statues have been desecrated in parts of the world. This is extremely disturbing for India and for civilised society everywhere."
The government said the police had handled the protests with utmost restraint. "It may be noted that hundreds of men and women serving in the police have been physically attacked, and in some cases stabbed and seriously wounded. We would like to emphasise that these protests must be seen in the context of India's democratic ethos and polity, and the efforts of the Government and the concerned farmer groups to resolve the impasse."
The statement comes after pop star Rihanna and climate campaigner Greta Thunberg came out in support of the farmers' protest against three central laws. Even US Vice President Kamala Harris's niece Meena Harris wrote a post.
Lawmakers from the US and UK also tweeted about the agitation that began late November on highways just outside Delhi against three laws that they fear will hurt them by taking away guaranteed minimum prices for their crops and by leaving them open to exploitation by big corporates.