The plight of farmers in India has been a deeply personal issue for many British Columbians.
Many residents still have farms back in India that they co-own with family members and, for weeks, they have been protesting new laws in that country that they say will benefit big corporations and wreak havoc on the earnings of smaller-scale farmers.
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Tuesday marked India’s Republic Day, a national holiday that honours the anniversary of the country’s constitution coming into effect, as well as a global day of action to show support for the farmers.
In B.C., a convoy of vehicles left the Strawberry Hill neighbourhood of Surrey and travelled towards Vancouver — the latest in a string of similar protests to take place recently.
Following the convoy, dozens gathered in downtown Vancouver in front of the Indian consulate, renewing their calls for justice and asking the Canadian government to do more to help.
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One demonstrator, Ramanprit Kaur, said it’s the sacrifices of those farmers who have allowed others to have a better life in Canada.
The granddaughter of an Indian farmer, Kaur said she credits their hard work to ensuring a better life for her and her family.
“I’m here basically because they earn from farming. That’s why I’m here, that’s why my future is bright,” she said.
Kaur said her grandfather has given everything to the land and he’s not going to give up the fight against the new laws.
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Another attendee of the protest in Surrey said his family in B.C. is strongly connected to their relatives in India, who are farmers.
Jagdeep Atwal said if conditions do not improve for his loved ones in India, he will have to support them financially.
“We would probably have to sell land here or in the UK to kind of help support everybody back in the Punjab,” Atwal said.
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Approximately 300,000 farmers have taken their own lives since 1995 because they’ve been unable to pay back loans.
The fear is these new laws will push farmers further into debt.
– With files from Grace Ke & the Canadian Press
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