A group of about 15 people from the Powell River Indian community came together in support of farmers in India in late December.
Jaskirat Singh Mangat said the protest, held December 22 in the parking lot in front of Mark’s and Dollarama near Joyce Avenue, was composed of people specifically belonging to the Punjab. Mangat said the location was chosen because there were lots of people going by and the group didn’t want to be on a main road, interrupting traffic.
“We tried to respect the drivers on the main road,” said Mangat.
He said tens of thousands of agricultural workers from across India have gathered on the outskirts of the capital New Delhi, demanding rollback of three laws that will hurt farmers’ incomes and make farming in India more difficult. He said about 800 million of India’s 1.3 billion population depend directly or indirectly on agriculture.
“The use of force by Indian police, including tear gas and batons, against peaceful protesters, has drawn international condemnation,” said Mangat. “Farmers from all over India are moving to New Delhi to protest.”
Powell River’s rally is part of a worldwide movement. Mangat said there have been protests in Canada, United States, United Kingdom and other nations. He said local residents are very concerned about what is happening in the farming community in India.
Mangat said there is an initiative to privatize the farming in India.
According to an account on the Global News website, the farmers in India have been blocking highways for nearly 40 days despite the COVID-19 pandemic, rains and an ongoing cold wave.
The account states that farmers fear the government will stop buying grain at a minimum guaranteed price under the laws and that corporations will then push prices down. According to Global, the farmers say the laws will lead to cartelization and commercialization of agriculture and make farmers vulnerable to corporate greed.
Mangat said during the time the protesters in Powell River were active, a number of people came by. He said most who stopped by and talked to the protesters were aware of what was happening in India.