On Monday 22nd February, the Mayor of Leicester expressed his concern over the on-going farmers’ protest in India. Sir Peter Soulsby has reportedly written to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab about the continuing dispute between the Indian government and farmers who are resisting three agricultural reforms.
Farmers are calling for a repeal of the laws that are believed to leave them at risk of exploitation.
In a letter to the UK Government, the Leicester City Mayor said the clashes between farmers and police present “risks to the essential democratic rights and freedoms”.
Sir Peter told LeicestershireLive that he had raised the matter with the UK Government because the issues were “close to the heart” of many people in the city who have family directly affected by the ongoing protests.
In his letter, Sir Peter noted: “We call on both sides to demonstrate restraint, but it is clear that the onus must be on the Indian authorities to protect the farmers’ rights to peaceful protest, to respect their right to freedom of assembly and expression, and to respond to any incidents of civil disobedience in a proportionate and appropriate manner.
“I am writing to urge you to raise the concerns of Leicester citizens with your Indian counterpart as a matter of urgency.
“I would press the UK government to schedule a debate at the earliest opportunity on the Parliamentary Petition, given that the threshold for debate of 100,000 has passed.”
According to LeicestershireLive, members of the Indian Worker's Association (IWA) based in Leicester have been raising awareness of the impact the laws could have on farmers. On behalf of the IWA, general secretary Sital Singh Gill wrote to local MPs seeking “urgent” support on the matter.