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How Sikh Diaspora catalyzed the farmers agitation against Indian government

TBL web desk

Since 26 November 2020, farmers from all over India are sitting at the borders of Delhi to protest against the three farm laws passed by the Modi government in a hurry without consulting any farmers’ union. There is no denying this conviction that the Sikh farmers from Punjab were the first ones to grasp the danger when the parliament passed the controversial bills without taking anyone into confidence. They lead the ‘Delhi chalo’ movement on 26 November, broke the barricades, faced the water cannons, and fought with full courage against the brutality of the police, who were trying hard to stop them from reaching Delhi. Since then they are not only fighting against the government at the forefront but also are managing food, goods of basic needs, and shelter at the Delhi borders to assure the comfort of people sitting on protest.

On one hand, the Sikhs of Punjab are leading the ongoing farmers’ agitation and on the other hand, the Sikh Diaspora in various foreign countries is lending their support to the protest by various means.

Why Sikh Diaspora is participating in the farmers’ protest?

This is not the first time that the Sikhs came into a clash with the government. The last time in the early 1980s, Sikhs were locked in a battle with the government when the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi sent the troops to the ‘Darbar Sahib’– the supreme holy shrine of the Sikhs to snub their peaceful movement for equal rights. At that time when the government was trying to eliminate the Sikh youth with full force, many families migrated to foreign countries like Canada, America, and U.K, etc. These families have faced the brutality of the government and hence are very well aware of the atrocities of the government. When the same situation aroused at the time of farmers’ protest, they could not sit back. So they participated actively in the agitations. Apart from this, these families belong to the agricultural families in Punjab and it is very difficult to separate them from their roots. Being from farming families they are very well aware of the catastrophic impacts these farm laws will have on the agrarian society. Their knowledge about farming and their love for their motherland Punjab lead them to lend support to their brothers and sisters who are fighting for their rights at the borders of Delhi.

How Sikh Diaspora is participating in the agitation?

Organizing Rallies and protest:

To build political pressure on the Indian government, the NRIs are organizing car rallies and protesting in front of the Indian embassies. In Brampton, Halifax, Vancouver, Birmingham, London, Surrey, Melbourne, Toronto, Sydney, New York, and San Francisco, etc. Sikhs of Punjab came out to demonstrate against the three farm laws. Hundreds of flag-waving vehicles took part in the car rallies. The caravan of vehicles blocked the roads. Hundreds of people were standing sideways while having placards in their hands demanding the repeal of the controversial farm laws. They also hold protests in front of the Indian embassies, shouted slogans, and carry placards saying ‘ no farmers no food’, ‘I support Indian farmers ‘and ‘ India stop selling off your farmers’, etc.

Charity works: 

The farmers’ protest is known for the ‘langars’ and the outstanding arrangements of the day-to-day needs and the shelters. It was because of the different kinds of langars arranged at the protest that the troll army named it as the protest of the rich people. Some called it picnic when they came to know about the pizza and dry fruits ‘langars’. Everyone was awestruck when they saw the massage machines installed at the protest site. The arrangement of the washing machines, toilets, tents, libraries etc. attracted almost everyone. All these arrangements could not be possible without the Sikh organizations such as ‘Khalsa aid’ lead by a British Sikh Ravi Singh Khalsa and United Sikh Association a USA-based organization. These organizations even opened up a ‘Kissan Mall’ at Tikri and Ghazipur border respectively, where anyone could take anything they need without any cost. These organizations also set up medical facilities at the Delhi borders. These organizations were supported by the Sikh people sitting in various countries. The NRIs of Punjab donated whatever they could to facilitate the agitating farmers.

Monetary help:

Sikhs of Punjab sent the monetary help out of their hard-earned money to their families and friends who are sitting in the borders so that they can manage their expenses. However, their help was considered as foreign funding while the government itself appreciates foreign investments.

Pressures build-up by the Sikh Diaspora and the Government’s reaction on it:

It was because of the NRIs that the farmers’ protest could reach the international level. The Sikh politicians in foreign countries picked up the topic of farmers in the parliament and urged their president to intervene and secure the basic human rights of the protesting farmers. Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, Member of Parliament for Slough, U.K, is talking continuously about the protest. Jagmeet Singh, another Canada-based Sikh Politician is lending his support to the agitation. Their reach to the audience is wider which made the foreign people talk about the farmers’ protest. The car rallies and the protests organized by the NRI Sikhs generated international support and soon after that various international celebrities and activists started talking about it on their social media platforms.

The government of India strongly condemned the interference of the NRI Sikhs in the protest. The government said that the issue of farmers is the internal matter of the country and the people sitting in foreign countries are unaware of it and hence have no right to interfere in it. They termed the participation of NRIs as the ‘foreign Invasion’. With the help of its campaigners like Kangana Ranaut, the government is trying to portray these Sikhs as the ‘Khalistani Terrosists’ and anti-India agents.

The government is very well aware of the ability of the Sikh farmers to fight any battle better than any other farming community. It was because of the pressure build-up by the Sikhs that Modi rushed to the ‘Sheesh Ganj Gurudwara sahib’ situated at Delhi and kneeled in front of Shri Guru Granth Sahib ji. The government sent nearly two crore emails to various people narrating how cordial the relationship of the government is with the Sikh community.

Apart from trying to win Sikhs with love and power, the government also tried to scare them. Ranjit Singh, a baptized Sikh was humiliated and beaten brutally by not only the police but also by the goons in the presence of police. He was dragged from hair, his pant and turban were pulled off to humiliate him. FIRs were registered against Deep Sidhu and Lakha Sidhana who were continuously talking about the Sikh issues.

Not only in India but the foreign countries, Sikh people are facing attacks and threats by the Indian government supporters. On Sunday at Harris Park in Sydney’s west, Australia, a group of four men were attacked by a gang because they were wearing turbans and were supporting agitating farmers. Another Sikh man in the same area was also attacked by the Indian origin goons several weeks ago. According to police, racial tensions are simmering in this area since the Farm bills passed. In another incident, some people provocatively stopped in front of gurudwara during ‘Tiranga Yatra’– a pro-farm bill rally. However, the Australian Government has warned of deportation post these attacks on Sikhs.

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