The Indian Consulate in Canadian Capital Toronto has written to the government in the country’s Ontario province, asking to remove “false and hateful” content from school curriculum about the farmers’ protest in India against three agriculture laws introduced by the Centre last year.
In a letter dated March 11, the Consulate General said that the study material used by some schools in Peel, Toronto and York districts “pushes a polarising narrative”, “creates hatred against India” and is based on “disinformation”.
“The Consulate General would further like to state that it considers this incident to be extremely serious and views it as a conspiracy to sabotage the goodwill and warm friendly relations between India and Canada by inimical entities to further their own nefarious agenda,” the letter stated.
The letter, which was written three months ago, is being shared now by social media users.
The letter added that parents of children in schools where the curriculum is being taught have approached the Indian Consulate on the matter. The parents, the letter said, have told the consulate general that their children have been subjected to “bullying and verbal harassment” due to the content of the curriculum.
“The seriousness of this issue which can potentially poison the bilateral relations between Indian and Ontario,” the letter also said.
Meanwhile, teachers in Canadian schools have stressed upon the need of including the farmers’ protest in their curriculum.
“This is not just a distant connection...It’s about our students’ lived experiences,” Brampton high school teacher Simmi Jaswal, told CBC News. Family members of Jaswal and many of his students have family members who have been protesting against the laws.
“I make it very frank to my students that in my view what we’re looking at is a form of oppression,” Jaswal added. “My preference is to centre on marginalised voices and identities.”
“I think the letter is quite ridiculous,” said Balpreet Singh, legal counsel for the World Sikh Organization of Canada, which advocates for the community’s interests and human rights. “The serious accusations being made are completely baseless.”
The World Sikh Organization obtained the note sent by the Consulate General through a freedom of information request made to the Peel District School Board.
At the height of the farmers’ protest in December, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had spoken in support of the farmers’ protest. saying hat his country will always defend the rights of peaceful protesters. In response, India had said the Canadian leader’s comments were “unwarranted and ill-informed”, especially when pertaining to the “internal affairs of a democratic country”.
Thousands of farmers have camped outside Delhi since November, demanding that the government repeal the three laws that open up the country’s agriculture markets to private companies. The farmers have hunkered down with supplies that they say will last them for months, and have resolved to not leave until their demands are met.
The farmers fear the policies will make them vulnerable to corporate exploitation and would dismantle the minimum support price regime. The government, however, continues to claim that the three legislation are pro-farmer.
The central government and the farmers have held 11 rounds of talks on the matter since December, but no consensus has been reached so far.