Fri. Jan 22nd, 2021

By Mayank Bhardwaj and Manoj Kumar

New Delhi (Reuters) – Thousands of Indian farmers, who are protesting the demolition of agricultural markets, are becoming the strength of Sikhs around the world, who are urging foreign governments to intervene with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Most of the farmers, who are from the Sikh-dominated state of Punjab, have been camping on the borders of New Delhi since last month, demanding that Modi withdraw the reforms to bring investment in the agricultural sector, but the farmers say They will leave them at the mercy of big corporations.

Sikhs living abroad, most of whom have families tied up in home farms, have picked up threads outside the Indian embassies in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia to draw attention.

Rajbir Singh, who runs a small transport business in Melbourne, said 250 to 300 Sikhs and other NRIs attended a rally in Melbourne district on Thursday.

On Saturday, people of Indian origin plan to hold similar protests near the state parliament of Victoria in Melbourne, said a data scientist, Safnoor Singh.

“The new laws will bring economic catastrophe to our motherland, and we can’t just close our eyes and pretend everything is done right at home,” he told Reuters by calling.

The farmers’ fear is that by allowing companies like Walmart and the retail arm of India’s Reliance Industries Ltd. to buy directly from farmers, the government intends to weaken traditional markets where their rice and wheat are guaranteed the lowest price.

Sikhs and other Indian Punjabis abroad are estimated at 12 million. They form a tight-knit group and are vocal in bringing community concerns back home.

Since farmers’ protests in India began more than two weeks ago, members of the diaspora took part in the protest march – consisting mostly of 400 to 600 people – of about 50 from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia In different cities. The protesters and their families said.

The government has declined to comment on the protests abroad. But underlining India’s sensitivity to what it sees as foreign interference in its internal affairs, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said farmers had the right to protest, with New Delhi this month to express displeasure at the Canadian ambassador called upon.

Parliamentary leader of the Victorian Greens Party of Australia, Samantha Ratnam, said recently at the State Legislative Council, “I have been approached by many concerned people of Indian origin who are in Victoria to speak on this issue.”

Farmers’ relatives and supporters also gathered in the small town of Canton, Michigan this month in the United States, taking placards saying “don’t cut the hand that feeds you” and “I stand with the farmers” . Other protesters demonstrated outside the Indian embassy in Washington.

In Canada, home to a Sikh community that is politically influential, residents of Indian origin have vowed to extend their support to India’s protesting farmers.

Amanpreet Singh Grewal, a resident of Brampton, Ontario, Canada, said, “We are regularly participating in protests to bring it to the attention of local authorities, who can help us raise our voice.” “We are committed to supporting our farmers in India.”

Many NRIs (NRIs) have their own farms in Punjab and are afraid of the sweeping changes that the government plans will harm them financially.

“Punjabi NRIs are concerned that if these laws are enforced, and the crop purchase price declines, it will lead to a steep decline in the value of their farm lands and annual income from land contracts,” said Avtar Singh Gill, 64. Said, now settled in Punjab after four decades in Britain.

Meira Singh, head of the NRI Council in Ropar district of Punjab, said that organizations representing foreign Indians such as farmers could mobilize people in villages, arrange transport for them and help the protesters collect milk and ration for sleeping. Have been. Open near delhi

Singh said his son, manager of a basketball team in Houston, Texas, was protesting there.

Mewa Singh said, “We cannot allow Prime Minister Modi to overcome what he has achieved over the years through hard work and political struggle.”

In Britain, Sikh groups made an impact and are making a case for British leaders to take up the issue with their Indian counterparts, even if the Modi government bans such participation.

Jas Singh, an adviser to the Sikh Foundation, said the community had written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Foreign Secretary Dominic Rab and opposition Labor Party leader Keir Starr to plead their case.

Jas Singh said, “Concerned over the use of disgruntled force against many elderly protesters, we have reached out to the United Nations to ask India to defend peasants’ rights to make a peaceful protest,” Jas Singh said.

(Report by Mayank Bhardwaj and Manoj Kumar; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani and Raju Gopalakrishnan)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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