Foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla told the UK high commissioner to India that such a discussion represented a “gross interference” in the politics of another democratic country.
“He advised that British MPs should refrain from practising vote bank politics by misrepresenting events, especially in relation to another fellow democracy,” the government said in a statement.
Earlier, the high commission of India in London issued a strong statement over the debate held in Westminster Hall at which 17 out of 18 British MPs attacked the Indian government’s handling of the farmers‘ issue and press freedom.
The Indian mission pointed out that foreign media, including British media, had been present and witnessed the events surrounding the farmers’ protests in India first-hand and therefore any “question of lack of freedom of the media in India does not arise”.
“We deeply regret that rather than a balanced debate, false assertions – without substantiation or facts – were made, casting aspersions on the largest functioning democracy in the world and its institutions,” a statement issued by the high commission said, following the debate which stemmed from an e-petition that attracted over 100,000 signatures on the parliamentary website.
“All issues raised are the remit of well-established independent democratic institutions in India for addressing the same. It is also a matter of concern that, once again, comments were made to mislead the British Indian community, raising doubts about treatment of minorities in India, alleged human rights violations in ‘Kashmir’ etc,” it said.
During the debate, MPs – from both Labour and the ruling Conservatives – condemned India for its treatment of farmer protesters and alleged crackdown on the press, as well as Internet shutdowns and arrest of activists.
The mission said it would normally refrain from commenting on an internal discussion involving a small group of honourable parliamentarians in a limited quorum.
“However, when aspersions are cast on India by anyone, irrespective of their claims of friendship and love for India or domestic political compulsions, there is a need to set the record straight,” the statement said.
(With inputs from agencies)