US Officials Urge Prime Minister Modi to Withdraw Anti-Farmer Bills

Ritu Jha-

Concerned over the way farmers participating in peaceful protests have been treated by law enforcement in India, more than two dozen elected officials in the US, mainly of Sikh descent, have urged the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to immediately halt their campaign of abuse as well as repeal the “anti-farmer” bills that farmers believe would lead to a significant number of suicides among Indian farmers.

The farmers for the past 29 days have a single-point agenda — repeal of the three farm laws: the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act 2000 (FPTC Act), Farmers’ Empowerment and Protection Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act 2000 (PAFS), and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.

The letter dated December 23, addressed to India’s Ambassador to the US Taranjit Singh Sandhu states, “Many of us have heard from our constituents about their concerns regarding the Indian government’s reactions to the protests. In the interests of ensuring fundamental civil rights, peace, and safety of all concerned, we call upon Prime Minister Modi, the government of India, and law enforcement authorities across the nation to immediately halt their campaign of abuse against peacefully protesting farmers and their allies.”

“We further call on government agencies to ensure that protesters are permitted to exercise their civil rights without harassment for as long as they may choose to do so.”

Amar Singh Shergill, California Democratic Party Executive Board Member told indica News, “The farmers have unambiguously stated that all three laws must be withdrawn, and I stand with them in defense of their livelihood and way of life.”

When asked about the letter they had written earlier with their concern, Shergill said, “Our earlier document was just a public statement and not a letter for delivery. This letter to the Indian Ambassador is an unprecedented statement of solidarity between Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh elected officials of South Asian descent representing districts across California.”

“The United States sends billions of dollars every year to India for agricultural products, and those funds should not be used to destroy farming communities or impoverish the people that work the land. Millions of Americans are directly connected to farmers in India, and their voices must be heard,” he said.

India’s farming community should be engaged in dialogue to ensure a peaceful and equitable resolution for all parties involved.

The farmers’ agitation has gained international attention, and for the past several weeks, tens of thousands of people have been hosting peaceful protests each week urging Prime Minister Modi to withdraw the three farm bills, which they say would only benefit corporations and lead to more farmers’ suicides.

The letter sent to Ambassador Sandhu to be delivered to Modi states: “Over the past several weeks, hundreds of thousands of farmers from across India have been engaged in peaceful protests against the legislation they believe will lead to economic ruin for their agricultural communities and end their way of life. They have made it clear that the legislation will benefit corporations and consolidate power, creating monopolies to the detriment of India’s already-struggling farmers.”

Farmers have traveled from their homes to convene on the streets of India’s capital in Delhi to call for change in government policy.

During their peaceful travels, police have impeded the farmers by blocking the roads, attacking the farmers with tear gas, abusing them with water cannons, and engaging in violent assaults, all in an attempt to stop them from exercising the civil rights granted to all Indian citizens; freedom of movement, freedom of speech, and freedom to protest their government.

As more farmers arrive from across the country, police and paramilitary presence have increased, and new barricades have been added to limit movement. Not only is the Indian government forcing these new policies upon farmers, but they are also now violently preventing the farmers from peacefully protesting.

Raj Chahal, Councilmember City of Santa Clara believes it’s time for the country to stand up with farmers, shame on the Modi government for their undemocratic, ruthless response of tear gas shelling and water cannons attacks on the peaceful farmers’ protest. Despite peaceful protest from the farmers, living in freezing cold weather on the roads, the Modi government is not ready to listen to them.

The preamble to the Indian constitution says, “WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure …”. This government has already eliminated SOCIALIST  SECULAR DEMOCRATIC from their workbook.

“Treatment of peaceful farmers with brute force, passing these laws in an undemocratic way and further increasing the wealth gap between rich and poor clearly shows real bad intentions of this government,” Chahal told indica News.

“Being a son of a farmer myself, my appeal to Modi jee is, repeal these three bills and start the process from scratch and listen to the farmers whom he is trying to help. Implement Swaminathan report and fully implement MSP (Minimum Support Price) on 23 crops throughout the country. And please stop calling these farmers anti-national, these are the same hard-working people who bring food to everyone’s table. Let us respect the peaceful protest and help end this impasse as soon as possible.

Below is the list of elected US officials who have signed the letter sent to Ambassador Sandhu:

Mayor Farrah Khan, City of Irvine; Councilmember Raj Salwan, City of Fremont; Councilmember Siri Pulipati, City of Rancho Cordova; Councilmember Aisha Wahab, City of Hayward; Director Aziz Akbari, Alameda County Water District; Trustee Al Jabbar, Anaheim Union High School District; Supervisor Mani Singh Grewal, Stanislaus County; School Director Sarabjit Kaur Cheema, Union City; Supervisor Karm Singh Bains, Sutter County; Mayor Amarpreet Singh Dhaliwal, City of San Joaquin; Governing Board Member Sarb Singh Takhar, Yuba City Unified Nijjer, City of Kerman Trustee Sharan Kaur, New Haven Unified School District ; Councilmember Bill Singh Trustee Naindeep Singh, Central Unified School District; Trustee Jag Singh Bains, Natomas Unified School District; Councilmember Mikey Singh Hothi, City of Lodi; Trustee Simran Kaur, Tracy School Board; Councilmember Gary Singh, Union City; Councilmember Paul Singh Sandhu, City of Galt; Mayor Sonny Singh Dhaliwal, City of Lathrop; Trustee Amarjit Kaur, John Swett Unified School District; Councilmember Gary Singh, City of Manteca; Director Harry Singh Dhillon, Mountain House Community Services District; Harmeet Kaur Dillon, Republican National Committeewoman, California.