Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whose support last year for farmers facing brutal police action had angered the centre, has now “commended” India for its handling of the protest, and for choosing “the path of dialogue, as befitting a democracy”, the External Affairs Ministry said Friday.
Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava told reporters Mr Trudeau also promised security for diplomatic missions and personnel in his country – against what the centre claims are “Khalistani and separatist elements” that have hijacked the protest and are conspiring to defame India.
“PM Trudeau commended efforts of India to choose the path of dialogue as befitting in democracy. He also acknowledged the responsibility of his government in providing protection to Indian personnel and premises in Canada,” Mr Srivastava told the press.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to his Canadian counterpart via telephone this week, with supply of coronavirus vaccines – specifically AstraZeneca and Oxford University’s Covishield, which is produced by Pune-based Serum Institute – one of several topics discussed.
According to the Prime Minister’s Office, Mr Trudeau said “India’s tremendous pharmaceutical capacity and PM Modi’s leadership” would be key to the world overcoming the pandemic.
“Was happy to receive a call from my friend Justin Trudeau. Assured him that India would do its best to facilitate supplies of COVID vaccines sought by Canada,” PM Modi tweeted after that call.
In December Mr Trudeau spoke out in support of farmers and their right to protest peacefully; he did so twice – once after the centre summoned the Canadian High Commissioner to complain.
Mr Trudeau’s support came as images of farmers being tear gassed and lathi charged made headlines. “Canada will always stand up for the right of peaceful protests anywhere,” he said.
More recently the OHCHR, or Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, called on both the centre and protesters to exercise maximum restraint.
Lakhs of farmers from across India have been protesting the agriculture laws since November. The centre has held 11 rounds of talks so far but there has been no breakthrough.
The farmers want the laws scrapped and a legal guarantee for MSPs (minimum support price). The centre says the laws will stay, but has offered an 18-month stay with a verbal assurance on MSPs.
The farmers have said they are open to fresh, and further talks, but have also released a schedule of future protests, which includes a four-hour rail roko across parts of India next week.
With input from ANI