Farmer protests: Questions for India, from California

Protesters at the San Francisco consulate


Scores of protesters, mainly Sikhs, gathered at the Indian consulate in San Francisco on January 26 in solidarity with the ongoing farmers’ protests in India.

The protesters stood outside the consulate, demanding that the Narendra Modi government repeal the three new farm laws it has enacted.

Kunarveer Singh, co-founder of the California Sikh Youth Alliance (CSYA), told indica News that the consulate was closed on Jan 26 but their objective was to send a message of solidarity with the farmers.

Kunarveer Singh said that this was his sixth such event in California in favor of the farmer protests.

How long you expect people to hold out?” he said when asked about the violence at the protests in Delhi on January 26, India’s Republic Day.

It’s a life and death issue for millions,” he said. “Now everyone is talking in such a negative way [about the protesters] but not about what actually has been going on for the past 60 days with the farmers.”

He said the protests had inspired millions to “see citizens control the country.”

The government wants to play the long game and wants to see who can hold the longest, I can assure you that the farmers will always win at the end of day,” Kunarveer Singh said.

Asked about allegations of support from supporters of the Khalistan movement — militant uprising for a separate Sikh country that India crushed in the 1980s — for the farm protests, Kunarveer called it propaganda.

The government is labeling Khalsa Aid as Khalistan link; where does Khalsa Aid have any affiliation to Khalistan? Anyone opposing anything in India is being labelled a terrorist.”

He said the Indian government was trying its hardest to sidestep from the actual issue here. “If Khalistani are coming to support, what’s wrong in that,” Singh asked, adding that “every single group in India at this point supports the farmers’ movement.”

He said the western countries are reluctant to talk on this issue because they rely heavily on India on trade deals.

Another participant at the protest, Amar Singh of Fresno, California, said this was his second protest.

He said he had empathy for India’s farmers, so showed up to show that “we are with them in the fight against the government.”

Asked about the skirmishes of January 26 in Delhi, Amar Singh said: “If we look at the past 60 days and what is going on in Delhi and how these people are protesting in Delhi… have they done any harm to the community, any businesses or if any negative way that impacted the people’s livelihood?”

He pointed out that farmers had died in the long protest in the bitter cold and the government did not care.

What happened was due to stress. They have not done any harm to the Indian flag and they respect Indian flag. At the same time showed the resistance present in the people of Punjab and Haryana and they put the farmers’ flag at the Red Fort too.”

Amar Singh cited the Black Lives Matter protests in the US.

They looted and many destroyed businesses; did you see any Indian farmers do any such act? They are so disciplined and law abiding. They just want their rights as citizens of India and a fair living wage and want to be seen as one and not divided by some outsiders,” Amar said.

When we [Sikhs] go to the border to fight China you say we are patriots and when we go to Delhi to ask for our own rights you call us terrorists.”