In a strong rebuttal to the way protesters from the farming community are being treated by Indian police, Justin Trudeau has expressed his concern over the news coming out of New Delhi.
While addressing the participants at a Zoom meeting organized to celebrate the birth anniversary of the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak, on Monday (November 30), Trudeau said “Canada will always be there to defend the right of peaceful protest.”
Adding that Canadians believe in the importance of dialogue, the prime minister revealed that his government has pursued multiple means to highlight its concerns to the Indian government.
He made the statement right at the very beginning of his address after welcoming Sikh members of his cabinet.
This follows a series of tweets made by elected officials across the political spectrum, including right-wing Conservatives and left-wing New Democrats, as well as Trudeau’s own Liberal party. That's come as protests have been held across Canada in solidarity with the agitating farmers who were assaulted by police in New Delhi.
Among those in attendance during the virtual celebration of the Gurpurb were Surrey MPs Sukh Dhaliwal and Randeep Singh Sarai. Both of them had previously expressed their outrage on social media over the police repression of farmers.
More than 300 people, including community leaders from all over Canada attended the remote event held online because of COVID-19 restrictions.
The intensity of the ongoing demonstrations in India was such that many elected officials of Indian origin and those representing ridings with sizable South Asian population were forced to make statements on Twitter or Facebook.
This is the first time that Trudeau has made a strong public statement against state violence that has grown under the current right wing Hindu nationalist government in India.
In fact, attacks on religious minorities and political dissidents have increased in India ever since Hindu chauvinist leader Narendra Modi became the prime minister in 2014. Trudeau has mostly remained silent about these developments until now.
Police in New Delhi have been harassing Punjab farmers who are camping in the city along with farmers from other Indian states to register their peaceful protest against recent controversial bills introduced by the government.
These measures are aimed at rolling back subsidies given to the farmers, even as India remains an agro-based economy. The bills were pushed through without due consultations, causing anxiety in the farming community.
There were not only attempts to prevent Punjab farmers from entering the capital, but they were brutally assaulted by Delhi police. Those on the receiving end included seniors.