As riots continue to wreak havoc overseas, the leader of the federal NDP is demanding a quick resolution of the issue.
Jagmeet Singh took to the public sphere earlier this week to urge Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to support farmers overseas who have been demanding resolution over restrictive and unfair laws targeting their industry, with mass protests abroad and at home in Brampton.
In response to a set of riots that wrecked Delhi on Jan. 26, Singh announced that he supported the farmers’ demands and urged Trudeau to condemn a crackdown by the Modi government on protestors.
Earlier this week, Singh posted a video message describing the situation overseas, the largest peasant movement in history, and called on Canadian leaders and other countries to condemn the Indian government’s violent response to the peaceful protests in Delhi.
On Jan. 26, which is the Republic Day holiday in India, agitating farmers had created a commotion in Delhi during a tractor march.
The protestors captured the Red Fort, a famed tourist attraction and historic site in Delhi, while hoisting a “saffron flag’ representing their movement.
Several of the participants in the protest were injured by police, who tried to prevent the causing heavy damage to the government and public property in Delhi.
There is a sizable Punjabi community in Canada, and many have families back in India who who are involved in the farming industry. According to Statistics Canada, the total number of Punjabi-speaking citizens in Canada rose from 367,505 to 501,680 between 2006 to 2016. There are 18 Sikh MPs in the Canadian parliament.
In Brampton and abroad, Punjabi Canadians are extending solidarity to the farmers movement through demonstrations and sending funds, with public protests at sites along Steeles and Main Street attracting dozens of participants.
At India’s Singhu border, there are three stalls run by United Sikhs (India), an international humanitarian organisation with a presence in 12 countries. They distribute drinking water and essentials such as medicine apart from providing counseling and physiotherapy sessions to ailing farmers.
The Canada chapter of United Sikhs, based in the GTA, has been reaching out to the local community to help farmers. “We tell people to speak to their relatives in India and ask them to donate or volunteer on their behalf instead of giving money to us. Many Canadians went to protests in Delhi recently and gave blankets, tents and even washing machines,” says Sukhwinder Singh, the director of United Sikhs (Canada).
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has in general been supportive of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, spoke publicly in support of Indian farmers on Dec. 1, 2020. This earned a strong objection from India, which termed comments made by Canadian ministers as “ill-informed” and “unwarranted.” Modi is known for his frequent meetings with world leaders, including Trudeau. However, some hold the opinion that he shunned Trudeau when the latter paid a visit to India in 2018.
Jagmeet Singh’s video called on world leaders, including Trudeau, “to denounce the Indian government’s violent response to these peaceful protestors.” Liberal Party MPs such as Sukh Dhaliwal, Randeep S. Sarai and Navdeep Bains, and Conservatives such as Tim S. Uppal and Jasraj Singh Hallan have also condemned violence against protestors through Twitter.