(G.N.S) Dt. 4
In response to a petition initiated by Maidenhead Liberal Democrats councillor Gurch Singh, whose roots are in Ludhiana. The campaign has already garnered more than a lakh signatures on the UK Parliament’s petitions website.
As per reports from media sources, In the House of Commons on March 8, 2021, UK MP’s to debate on “press freedom and the safety of farmer protesters in India”
Scottish National Party MP Martyn Day will open the debate, which is scheduled to last 90 minutes. Westminster Hall debates had been suspended on January 14 because of the Covid-19 resurgence, but are set to resume on March 8.
“The debate will add pressure on the UK government to take this issue up with the Indian authorities, either directly or at an international level,” Singh said. “This is a matter of human rights, the right for farmers to peacefully protest against laws that would otherwise exploit them. It’s also about allowing journalists to freely report on what’s happening. This is no different from the UK government taking a stance on protesters in Hong Kong.”He said the petitions committee, which schedules debates for petitions with over 100,000 signatures, “realised that this is very much a live issue and it’s not something that can be delayed any further. Many farmers have lost their lives, some are still missing, others are locked away in prison and journalists are being silenced.”
The petition calls on the UK government to make a public statement on the farmers’ protests and press freedom in India.
Westminster Hall debates do not automatically change government policy or the law. No votes take place. But petition debates give MPs an opportunity to raise local or national issues and receive a response from the minister concerned.
The petitions system can put issues on the parliamentary agenda that may not otherwise have been discussed in the House of Commons. The petitions committee will only accept petitions on issues that “are the responsibility of the UK government or House of Commons”.
Jasvir Singh, chair of City Sikhs, has written a letter to UK PM Boris Johnson asking him to take note of the alleged violations of human rights in India in relation to the farmers’ protests”. The letter asks why the UK did not “remind India of its legal responsibilities towards own citizens” when it held the chair of the UN Security Council last month. “The UK’s diplomatic role cannot be underestimated, and we urge the government to ensure that such important scrutiny is not cast aside for the purposes of any forthcoming trade discussions,” it says.