India has asked for US help in investigating the Sikhs for Justice — a Khalistani group — and their secessionist campaign Referendum 2020. The request has been sent to the US Department of Justice, the foreign ministry said in the backdrop of investigation into alleged Khalistan links in the farmers’ protests. The Delhi Police has registered a case, citing an “overseas” conspiracy behind the violence during the Republic Day tractor rally.
Earlier today, asked about the US remarks on the ongoing farmers’ protests, the foreign ministry underscored that it is “important to see such comments in their entirety”. Pointing out that “India and the US are both vibrant democracies”, ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said the US “has acknowledged steps taken by India in agricultural reform”.
The ministry, however, added: “The incidents of violence and vandalism at the historic Ref Fort on the 26th of January have evoked similar sentiments and reactions in India as did the incidents on the Capitol Hill on the 6th of January and are being addressed as per respective local laws.”
On the blockage of internet access in parts of the National Capital Region, the government said it was “understandably taken to prevent further violence”.
The government’s remarks came a day after its unusually sharp response after a tweet flagging the farmers’ protest by pop icon Rihanna sparked a storm. Several US political leaders and celebrities had also tweeted, focusing on the protests by lakhs of farmers against the farm laws at the border of Delhi for more than two months.
In the evening, quoting from the State Department briefing, a spokesperson had said, “We recognize that peaceful protests are a hallmark of any thriving democracy, and note that the Indian Supreme Court has stated the same. We encourage that any differences between the parties be resolved through dialogue”.
“In general, the United States welcomes steps that would improve the efficiency of India’s markets and attract greater private sector investment,” the spokesperson added, in remarks seen to indicate support for the farm laws.
In much of the pushback that followed Rihanna’s tweet in India, political leaders, actors and sportspersons said India’s sovereignty could not be compromised and the government had the situation in hand.
In its official response, the foreign ministry had blamed “vested interests” and suggested that before “rushing to comment on such matters, we would urge that the facts be ascertained, and a proper understanding of the issues at hand be undertaken”.
“The temptation of sensationalist social media hashtags and comments, especially when resorted to by celebrities and others, is neither accurate nor responsible,” the foreign ministry had said.
“Motivated campaigns targeting India will never succeed,” foreign minister S Jaishankar had tweeted.