Members of Halifax’s Indian community held yet another display of solidarity on Saturday in support of Indian farmers, who are protesting new agriculture laws.
Back in September, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi passed new legislation that farmers say could cause the government to stop buying grain at guaranteed prices. The three new laws allow farmers to sell their crops directly to private buyers instead of to the Indian government at a regulated price.
The Indian government says the laws are part of long-awaited reform in the agriculture sector, and will let farmers market their produce and increase production through private investment.
Tens of thousands of farmers from northern India’s Punjab and Haryana have taken to the streets to protest the legislation, only to be met by violence from police. Videos have emerged of police hitting farmers with water cannons, tear gas and beating them with batons.
“The bills are not favourable to the farmers and they’re killing their livelihood,” said Rimple Dhunna, a demonstrator at a rally outside Pier 21 on Saturday. “We are their sons and their relatives, so we are protesting against Indian government.”
“Most of us belongs to the farmer family. We are farmers of ourselves. We have friends and families who are farmers.”
Over 100 vehicles gathered together on Saturday to hold a carry rally in support of Indian farmers. It was one of many rallies that have been held in Halifax and across Canada, as the dispute in India escalates.
“We want people to be aware, and raise their voice, and then (be) aware of what (the) government is trying to do in India,” said Ravinder Sidhu, a demonstrator at Saturday’s rally.
A similar rally was held outside Victoria Park on Wednesday and Thursday, where demonstrators said the laws are having dire impacts on small farming.
“It was a peaceful protest… but government played cheat tactics; they used water canons, tear gas, put barricades,” a demonstrator, Mankaran Singh, said Thursday.
“The whole world should know what’s going on in India.”
Saturday’s rally began outside Pier 21, then made its way to Dartmouth across the Macdonald Bridge, eventually ending along the Bedford Highway.
They say similar rallies will be held in the days to come, to let Indian farmers know they have their continued support.
The two sides are set to meet for further discussions this week in India.
With files from Karla Renic.