Mumbai: Peaceful protests and unhindered access to information, including the internet, are hallmarks of any thriving democracy, the US State Department has said in response to a question on the farmers’ protests in India.
Indicating that the new Biden administration supports the Indian government’s move to reform the agricultural sector that attracts private investment and access to more markets for farmers, a State Department spokesman said: “In general, the United States welcomes steps that would improve the efficiency of India’s markets and attract greater private sector investment”.
According to the government, three farm laws at the centre of the movement would give farmers more flexibility and freedom to sell their produce. However, The protesting farmers have argued that the laws would prioritise the interests of corporates over theirs.
“We recognise that peaceful protests are a hallmark of any thriving democracy and note that the Indian Supreme Court has stated the same,” the official said.
“We recognise that unhindered access to information, including the internet, is fundamental to the freedom of expression and a hallmark of a democracy,” the spokesperson further said.
Internet services were suspended at protest sites in several districts of Delhi and Haryana in the last few days. In addition, a heavy police presence with elaborate barricades has been deployed since January 26 at the three main protest sites of farmers near Delhi’s borders. On Republic Day, violence erupted in some parts of the national capital during a farmers’ tractor rally.
Several farmers, especially from Punjab and Haryana, have been protesting at Delhi borders against the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020.