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MPs set to debate Maidenhead councillor's petition on Indian farmers' protest

James Bagley. Local Democracy Reporter

MAIDENHEAD 132871-5

Cllr Gurch Singh

A cross-party of MPs are set to debate the ongoing Indian farmers’ protest after a Maidenhead councillor’s successful petition.

At 4:30pm today (March 8), Parliamentarians will gather both in person and virtually at Westminster Hall – which was triggered after St Mary’s ward councillor Gurch Singh’s e-petition reached over the 100,000 target.

Cllr Singh started the petition – which has been signed by nearly 115,700 people so far – in December, demanding the UK government make a statement on the protests as well as urging the Indian government to ensure the safety of protestors and maintain press freedoms there.

For months, tens of thousands of farmers across India have flooded into Delhi and clashed with police after peacefully protesting Prime Minister Narenda Modi’s controversial agricultural reform.

The 90-minute debate will be opened by Scottish National Party MP and member of the petitions committee Martyn Day.

Cllr Singh said: “A huge thank you to the over 115,000 British citizens from across the United Kingdom who have signed, supported, and shared the petition.

“I am sure the farmers protesting on the streets in Delhi have felt the warmth of the British public, as of I, and I hope the Parliamentary debate will help bring this situation to a sensible conclusion.”

Slough’s MP Tan Dhesi, who sent a cross-party letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson signed by 100 MPs and Lords, said: “While we spend most of our time discussing local and national issues, the beauty of being a British Parliamentarian is that almost every day we conduct debates on what is happening around the world.

“It enriches our democracy and strengthens the capabilities of MPs, since they must have the ability to research widely and build an international outlook on life.

“Such debates inform our collective national thinking and also help provide constructive criticism to our friends and allies globally.

“It certainly is not anti-national, or anti-India, to be voicing concerns about the policies of the government of the day, whosoever that may be.

“In the UK, we consistently scrutinise the actions of our government and also foreign governments. Indeed, it’s the sign of a healthy, thriving democracy.”

The debate can be viewed here at 4:30pm: https://parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/5577ccbe-d3a1-4dd0-a1d6-81e81a3cea92

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