The Diaspora celebrates repeal of laws as ‘Farmers’ Victory’

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Buoyant farmers dancing in the streets of Delhi (PTI Photo)

The Wire News of India
New Delhi, November 21, 2021

When the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the three farms laws would be withdrawn, it was night-time in most countries where the Indian Diaspora had avidly followed the farmers’ protests, and several lawmakers made supportive declarations over the past year.

The congratulations for the perseverance of the protestors began as these countries woke up to the news, one after the other. Nearly all of them pointed out that the ‘victory’ had been achieved on Guru Nanak Dev’s 552nd birth anniversary.

“Gross Interference”

During the last year, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had summoned the Canadian High Commissioner and the UK High Commissioner to lodge protests over statements by politicos related to the farmers’ protests.

In March, the Foreign Secretary called the newly accredited UK envoy to deliver a strong message that a Parliamentary debate about press freedom and farmers protests was a “gross interference” in India’s internal affairs.

“The Foreign Secretary summoned the British High Commissioner and conveyed strong opposition to the unwarranted and tendentious discussion on agricultural reforms in India in the British parliament,” said the MEA statement.

A Westminster Hall debate initiator, Labour MP and Shadow Minister Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, was among the first to praise the repeal of the three contentious agricultural laws.

Indian farmers jubilant at the Delhi-Singhu border (BBC Photo)

Labour MP demands apology

Stating that he was glad that the laws had been repealed, he hoped that sections of media and government who labelled the farmers and their supporters as terrorists and separatists should apologise.

When an Indian journalist replied that an apology was highly unlikely, he said that it was unfortunate. “People like them should have the humility to accept when they have wronged someone. The farmers have made such enormous sacrifices over the last year and they did not deserve to be so badly mistreated,” he said.

His Party colleague and UK’s youngest MP, Nadia Whittome, was even more forthcoming in pointing out that farmers’ “huge victory” must also result in accountability since many protestors were “subjected to violence in the process by BJP supporters.”

She had also signed the letters drafted by Dhesi to the British Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary before they visited India, asking them to raise the farmers protest with their Indian interlocutors. Similarly, other Indian-origin Labour lawmakers also hailed the commitment to withdraw the three laws.

Support from Canada

Across the Atlantic, Canada, with its large Indian diaspora, extended visible support for the farmers’ movement.

This had even led to the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau chiming in with his espousal for the right to hold peaceful protests during a Facebook live programme to mark Guru Purab in 2020. The Canadian envoy was summoned to MEA with India, asserting that Trudeau’s comments would have a “seriously damaging impact“ on bilateral ties.

From the beginning of the protests to the recent killings at Lakhimpur Kheri, Canadian politicians have taken note of the farmers’ movement.

File Photo of farmers protesting in New Delhi in December 2020

Liberal Party Member of Parliament from Surrey-Newton, Sukh Dhaliwal tagged a video of people dancing at night in his constituency after the Indian PM’s announcement.

“Peaceful protests, perseverance and determination have paid off for the farmers of India. There are thousands of Surrey BC-Newton residents continuing to celebrate since the news broke yesterday,” Dhaliwal tweeted.

Canada’s The Globe and Mail newspaper reported that Scott Road in Surrey had been the site of an indefinite protest organised in solidarity with the farmers’ union in India.

The report, quoting a community activist Mandip Kharod, said that people celebrated by dancing to Punjabi music.

“When I reached, I saw dozens had already gathered there. They were singing, they were dancing, they were hugging each other. Many of us cried tears of happiness and relief,” she told the Globe and Mail.

Leader of New Democratic Party, the fourth largest party in Canada’s House of Commons, Jagmeet Singh, mixed his felicitations with his greetings for Guru Purab.

Ruby Singh Sahota, a Canadian Liberal Member of Parliament, who was vocal about the killing of farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri, marked the important announcement by re-posting a celebratory tweet of the Kisan Ekta Morcha.

Punjabis plan solidarity gathering

The Ottawa Punjabi Association plans to organise langar outside the Indian High Commission on November 27 to show gratitude to the supporters. Last year, they had organised a three-month-long sit-in to extend solidarity with the farmers at the exact location.

“We will offer our gratitude to the elders in Punjab who led from the front, but also for the community in Ottawa. People of all races and ethnicities supported our movement and put up with the inconvenience. We will invite them to break bread with us,” Vinny Manes, one of the organisers, told the Globe and Mail.

Several US Senators and Congress Representatives had raised the farmers’ protests with the White House, both under the Trump and Biden administrations.

However, Democrat Congress representative Andy Levin was the only US lawmaker to take note of the events in India publicly. The timelines of US democrat lawmakers have been filled with posts about the massive $1.75 trillion infrastructure Bill passed by the House and the acquittal of a teenager for killings at a Black Lives Matter protest.

Levin, a lawmaker from Michigan’s 9th Congressional District, framed the victory as that of workers’ unity.

“This is proof that when workers stick together, they can defeat corporate interests and achieve progress – in India and around the world,” tweeted Levin, whose Twitter bio states his support for “working people.”

The above article and pictures, which appeared in The Wire India, have been reproduced here under a Special Arrangement.

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