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SOURCE: The Statesman

The protesting farmer leaders said on Tuesday that they have urged the British- Punjabi Members of Parliament (MPs) and leaders to appeal to United Kingdom (UK) Prime Minister Boris Johnson to cancel his visit to India as the Chief Guest for next year’s Republic Day event on January 26, 2021, as a mark of protest against the new farm laws and until the Centre concedes to their demands.

“The UK Prime Minister is scheduled to visit India on January 26. We are writing to British MPs asking them to stop him from visiting India till the time farmers’ demands are not met by the Indian government,” Kulwant Singh Sandhu, a farmer leader from Punjab, was quoted by news agency ANI.

There are five Punjabi-origin MPs in the house of commons, Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, Virendra Sharma, Preet Kaur Gill, Gagan Mohindra and Seema Malhotra. Britain is also home to a sizeable Punjabi diaspora.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had extended the invitation to his British counterpart to be the chief guest at India’s Republic Day parade on January 26, 2021.

Boris Johnson, whose country is also battling an aggressive mutant strain of the coronavirus, said it would be a “great honour” to attend India’s Republic Day celebration.

The UK Prime Minister had accepted India’s invitation to visit as the Chief Guest for the Republic Day ceremony on 26 January. The trip is significant from UK’s perspective as it will be the first foreign trip by the PM post-Brexit and also the country will be hosting both the G7 Leaders’ Meeting and COP26 Summits next year.

The protests by farmers at Delhi borders, that have now reached 28th day, have garnered global support, especially from the countries that are home to considerable Punjabi diaspora.

If materialised, Boris Johnson would be only the second British leader since Indian independence to attend India’s annual Republic Day parade in New Delhi as Guest of Honour, after John Major in 1993.