After US remarks on farmers' protest, India says 'Capitol Hill siege evoked similar sentiments'

On the blockage of internet access in parts of the National Capital Region, which has resonated in the US, the government said it was 'understandably taken to prevent further violence'

FP Staff February 04, 2021 20:36:28 IST
After US remarks on farmers' protest, India says 'Capitol Hill siege evoked similar sentiments'

Protesting farmers listen to a speaker at the Delhi- Haryana border, outskirts of New Delhi. AP

Hours after the US administration reacted to the farmer protests, India on Thursday said the comments must be seen in their entirety and appeared to compare the reactions and sentiments in the country after incidents of violence and vandalism at the Red Fort on 26 January to those following the recent clashes at the US' Capitol Hill.

At a media briefing, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said any protests must be seen in the context of India's democratic ethos and polity, and the ongoing efforts of the government and the concerned farmer groups to resolve the impasse.

"The incidents of violence and vandalism at the historic Red Fort on 26 January have evoked similar sentiments and reactions in India as did the incidents on the Capitol Hill on 6 January and are being addressed as per our respective local laws," he said.

In its first reaction to the ongoing farmers' agitation, the new US administration on Thursday said it encourages that any differences between the parties be resolved through dialogue even as it backed steps that can improve the efficiency of India's markets and attract greater investment.

The US also said peaceful protests and unhindered access to the internet are "hallmarks" of a "thriving democracy".

"We have taken note of comments of the US state department. It is important to see such comments in the context in which they were made and in their entirety," he said.

Srivastava said both India and the United States are vibrant democracies with shared values.

"The temporary measures with regard to internet access in certain parts of the NCR region were therefore understandably undertaken to prevent further violence," Srivastava added.

The MEA spokesperson said the US state department has acknowledged the steps being taken by India towards agricultural reforms.

"Any protests must be seen in the context of India's democratic ethos and polity, and the ongoing efforts of the government and the concerned farmer groups to resolve the impasse," he said.

Peaceful protests ‘hallmark of any thriving democracy’: US

The remarks made earlier today by the state department in Washington and the US embassy in Delhi was in response to questions on the over two-month-long protests by farmers at the national capital's borders.

"We recognise that peaceful protests are a hallmark of any thriving democracy, and note that the Indian Supreme Court has stated the same. We encourage that any differences between the parties be resolved through dialogue," a spokesperson of the US embassy said. The talks between the farmer unions and the Centre have remained deadlocked.

An identical response was given by a state department spokesperson in Washington.

"In general, the United States welcomes steps that would improve the efficiency of India's markets and attract greater private sector investment," the state department official said, indicating that the new Biden administration is supportive of the Indian government's move to reform the agricultural sector.

On the issue of restrictions on internet services at the protest sites, the US embassy spokesperson said: "We recognise that unhindered access to information, including the internet, is fundamental to the freedom of expression and a hallmark of a thriving democracy."

With inputs from PTI

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