Several diaspora organisations from US, Canada, Australia, Finland and various European countries have expressed solidarity with the protesting farmers in India.

Women marching along Nashik Mumbai highway in a long line with raised fists on their way to protestFarmers Protest in Mumbai/PTI
news Farmers' Protest Sunday, January 24, 2021 - 15:36

Members of the Indian diaspora from the US, Canada, Kuwait, Australia, Finland and many countries in Europe have expressed solidarity with Indian farmers protesting the three contentious farm laws. The diaspora organisations have written to the Indian Embassy in various countries, demanding that the Indian government immediately repeal the three legislations, which, according to them, “corporatise agriculture, threaten food security, compromise democracy, and above all sidestep core constitutional mechanisms.” 

“We urge the government to seriously consider the remaining demands of the protesting farmers: to guarantee a minimum support price for all agricultural produce, to implement the findings of the Swaminathan Commission, and to convene an exclusive parliamentary session to resolve all outstanding grievances of farmers,” the organisations said in the letter, which was sent to the Indian Embassy in Finland, Sweden, Bahrain, Kuwait, Norway, France, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Netherlands, UK, Scotland, Canada and Germany. 

The letter called the passing of the farm laws unconstitutional, as the laws relate to the regulation of markets “which fall under the exclusive jurisdiction of States within India's federal structure.” The diaspora organisations said that while the Supreme Court has stayed the implementation of the laws, “it is not directly tackling the unconstitutionality as is its direct mandate”, and has instead advocated “unsolicited mediation between the farmers and the elected representatives.”

The Supreme Court stayed the implementation of the three farm laws on January 11 till further orders. The court also formed a committee of experts to resolve the deadlock, and the SC-appointed panel has been asked to consult all stakeholders before submitting its report in two months’ time.  

After several rounds of negotiations, the government had finally proposed to suspend the farm laws on hold for 18 months. However, protesting farmer unions on Thursday rejected the proposal and said they will only agree to a complete repeal of all the contentious laws.

Terming the government response to the protests so far as “insincere”, the letter said that the government’s proposals to address the protests “do not constitute a permanent solution, leading us to conclude that these are mere delaying tactics and attempts to defeat the movement.” 

Noting that political leaders across the world, including members of parliament in the UK, and Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, have also criticised the farm laws and raised concerns about the way the Indian government has responded to the protesting farmers, the diaspora organisations called for the farm laws to be repealed, and for the Indian government to “re-establish trust in democracy and government institutions.”

The signatories of the letter include 18 different organisations, including Indian Solidarity Finland, Indian Resistance Network (Norway), India Solidarity Germany,  Indian Alliance Paris, Indian Solidarity Sweden, EU Liberal Indians Amsterdam Chapter, Scottish Indians for Justice, Scotland, Canadians Against Oppression & Persecution (CAOP),  Voices Against Fascism in India (USA), International Network of Democratic Indians Abroad, The Humanism Project (Australia), The Progressive India Collective (USA) and Coalition Against Fascism in India (USA). 

The farm laws, which were enacted in September 2020, have been projected by the Union government as major agriculture reforms intended to remove middlemen and allow farmers to sell their produce anywhere in the country. However, the protesting farmers have expressed apprehensions that the new laws would eventually lead to eliminating MSP (minimum support price) and doing away with the mandis or market yards systems, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates.

Read: Farmer unions reject Indian govt's proposal to put farm laws on hold, demand repeal