‘Unwarranted’: India slams Canada PM’s remarks on farmer protests

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s remarks on the continuing farmers’ protests in India has not gone down well with the Hindu nationalist government, which dubbed his comments as “unwarranted”.

“We have seen some ill-informed comments by Canadian leaders relating to farmers in India. Such comments are unwarranted, especially when pertaining to the internal affairs of a democratic country,” India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said on Tuesday.

“It is also best that diplomatic conversations are not misrepresented for political purposes.”

Speaking at an online event to mark the 551st birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, the Canadian leader said that the news coming out of India was “concerning” and his country would “always be there to defend the rights of peaceful protest”.

Thousands of farmers have been camping outside the Indian capital, New Delhi, for almost a week now, demanding the scrapping of controversial agriculture laws enacted by the governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi defended the laws and accused the opposition parties of misleading the farmers, who have dubbed the bills “anti-farmer”. His government says the new laws will bring much-needed private investment to the crisis-hit agricultural sector.

Dwindling farm income

Over the past several decades the share of agriculture in the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) has dwindled as the farm sector has been hit with high indebtedness, crop failure, drought and low prices for produce. The sector accounts for 15 percent of the economy but employs more than half of the country’s 1.3 billion people.

Farmers fear that the minimum support price (MSP) – the price at which the government buys farm produce – will be abolished gradually and they will be left at the mercy of private players.

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