The protests in India grew steam in late November and have turned violent in the past few days.
The members of Canada’s Punjabi communities say they’re growing increasingly worried about family and friends who are taking part in the protests as violent clashes between farmers and police in India
“Sitting in Canada, we feel helpless, we feel hopeless,” said Toronto’s Parminder Singh, whose family has owned farms in India’s Punjab region for countless generations.
“I’m from a family of farmers, so this entire situation is hitting very close to home,” he added.
“The Sikh Punjabi community diaspora are so closely linked to this because the majority of us are farmers from back home.”
“They’re family, they’re brothers and sisters, they’re our grandparents,” added Jaskaran Sandhu with the World Sikh Organization of Canada.
“We have family back home, both my wife’s side and my side. Our entire family history is farmers.”
Tens of thousands of farmers from northern India’s Punjab and Haryana have blocked streets and highways outside the capital, New Delhi.
They’re protesting three agricultural laws that were passed in September, allowing farmers to sell their crops directly to private buyers instead of to the Indian government at a regulated price.
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The Indian government argues it gives farmers more freedoms, but farmers fear that big corporations would be able to exploit them since they argue the new legislation has no safeguards in place to protect them.
“Essentially it’s a David-versus-Goliath story,” said Singh. “These are small landowners up against corporate greed.”
“It’s the livelihood of my family back home, we just cannot compete with the price gouging that would take place or the undercutting that would take place,” he added. There is no hope, there is no future aside from farming.