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Indian-American Congressman Ro Khanna Seeks Peaceful and Fair Solution to Farmers' Issue

Democratic U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna speaks at a climate rally in Iowa. (Reuters)

Democratic U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna speaks at a climate rally in Iowa. (Reuters)

Indian-American Congressman Ro Khanna, 44, was recently elected for a third consecutive term from the congressional district representing Silicon Valley.

Indian-American Congressman Ro Khanna has hoped for a peaceful and fair solution to the farmers’ issues in India, saying he is encouraged by the ongoing dialogue between the protesting farmers and the government. Khanna, 44, was recently elected for a third consecutive term from the congressional district representing Silicon Valley.

India and the US share a rich tradition of democracy and peaceful protests. Farmworkers are the backbone of both our nations and must have their voices heard. I hope there’s a peaceful and fair solution so they can provide for their families, Khanna said in a tweet on Saturday. I am encouraged by the ongoing dialogue, he said, joining other American lawmakers who have expressed their views on the ongoing farmers’ protest in India, several of whom have expressed their concerns.

As Co-Chair of the American Sikh Caucus in Congress, my office has received first-hand accounts of the horrific crackdowns on protestors who are trying to peacefully express their disapproval of India’s recent agricultural reform legislation, said Congressman John Garamendi, who along with two other lawmakers wrote a letter to India’s Ambassador to the US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu early this week. According to the letter, hundreds of thousands of farmers from the states of Punjab and Haryana that have made their way to New Delhi to peacefully protest these new agricultural laws, and the Indian government has met these peaceful protestors with tear gas, water cannons, barricades, baton attacks, and more.

Many of these farmers have children, relatives, and friends who are US citizens, many of whom have reached out to us to share their concerns about these developments. We urge the Indian government to demonstrate its respect for these crucial democratic freedoms, and to be a model of democratic values in the vital Indo-Pacific region. The letter, dated December 4, was released this week. The two other lawmakers who have expressed their concern on the protest were congressman Jim Costa and congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee, members of the American Sikh Caucus.

Thousands of farmers are currently staying put at Delhi’s borders with Haryana and Uttar Pradesh in protest against the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020. They have expressed apprehension that these laws would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the ”mercy” of big corporations.

However, the government has maintained that the new laws will bring farmers better opportunities and usher in new technologies in agriculture. There have been multiple rounds of talks between representatives of the protestors and the government but the logjam continues.

first published:December 13, 2020, 14:30 IST