Making a U-turn, Canada's prime minister has exonerated the Indian government for its brutal treatment toward agitating farmers.
Earlier this month, the Ministry of External Affairs in India said that Justin Trudeau has commended it for handling of the farmers' protest through dialogue.
This is in sharp contrast to Trudeau's earlier condemnation of the right-wing Hindu nationalist BJP government late last year.
Last December, Trudeau denounced the use of excessive force against farmers protesting near New Delhi seeking the revocation of controversial agricultural laws that threaten their livelihood.
Trudeau's comments at that time came shortly after police barbarity against farmers sparked angry demonstrations across Canada.
The Indian establishment reacted strongly to Trudeau's criticism, describing it as a foreign interference into their internal affairs. The Indian government also summoned the Canadian ambassador to register a protest against Trudeau for encouraging "extremist activism".
However, months later Trudeau has softened his position. The first indication came when the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted that Trudeau had called him and sought help by asking for COVID-19 vaccines.
Modi claimed that the two leaders also discussed climate change and economic recovery. Interestingly, Modi described Trudeau as his "friend" in the tweet. This sounded fishy as relations between the two sides were strained.
Even as we were all still trying to comprehend the changed situation, India’s Ministry of External Affairs dropped a bombshell by claiming that Trudeau had commended the Indian government for its handling of the farmers' protests.
The Indian media also reported that Trudeau has offered assurances that the government will provide security to Indian diplomats from Sikh separatists active in Canada. According to the Indian government, "extremists" have hijacked the campaign on behalf of the farmers’ agitation within the Indian diaspora.
Trudeau's change of heart may have to do with the fact that Canada desperately needs vaccines.
That Canada has hostile relationship with China, another potential supplier of vaccines, may have prompted Trudeau to look to India for help.
India must have also reconciled itself with Trudeau's earlier statement due to its own problems with China. The two foes of China coming together is something normal.
However, it reflects poorly on Canada that as a much developed nation, it should not need to beg for help from a developing country like India.
On top of that, Canada claims to be a human rights leader in the world. By ignoring the ongoing repression of minorities under Modi and growing suppression of any voice of dissent in the world’s so-called largest democracy, Trudeau has let us down as Canadians.
He has thrown people like us under the bus when we stood up for him when he came under attack from the right-wing media in India.
Ever since Modi came to power in 2014, attacks on minorities, particularly Muslims, have grown in India while political dissidents continue to be arrested and detained.
During the farmers’ agitation, too, numerous journalists and activists have been thrown behind bars. Among them are those accused of violence during the January 26 protest in New Delhi.
Trudeau should open his eyes to the fact that this situation was caused by the arrogance of a government that won’t listen and refuses repeal the laws that are not good for the farmers.
We can only hope that the opposition in Canada unites against Trudeau’s doublespeak and seek answers from him for going out of his way to appease a tyrant such as Modi by leaving those protesting in support of farmers in Canada out in the cold.
Even as his party MPs claim that the issue of farmers’ protest came up during the discussion between the two leaders and the two leaders underlined the need to resolve the issue through dialogue, these MPs are trying to blame Indian media and supporters of Modi for putting a spin on the entire episode.
Yet we have a right to ask how strongly Trudeau took up the cause of farmers and why he couldn’t find a source other than India for vaccines.
(An online petition was created by Surrey resident Imtiaz Popat asking the Canadian government not to buy AstraZenica vaccines from India because of it's human rights violations and repression against its citizens: https://www.thepetitionsite.