Reaction from local South Asian community after farmers protest in India
Hundreds of vehicles turned out for a car rally in the Lower Mainland on Wednesday in solidarity with Punjabi farmers protesting new agriculture laws in India.
Demonstrators and their cars and trucks decked out with signs and Canadian flags gathered at the Surrey Cineplex Strawberry Hill parking lot before making their way to the Indian consulate in downtown Vancouver.
Organizers said many B.C. residents have deep ties and connections to the farmers, who are have camped out on highways in the Punjab and Haryana states to demand that the new laws be scrapped.
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The farmers say the legislation could cause the government to stop buying grain at guaranteed prices, and result in their exploitation by corporations that would buy their crops cheaply.
The Indian government insists the laws are part of much-needed reform of the agriculture sector, and will let farmers market their produce and increase production through private investment.
Over the weekend, the situation escalated to clashes with police, who responded with tear gas, water cannons and baton charges around New Delhi.
The two sides held talks Tuesday, but were unable to reach common ground.
– With files from the Canadian Press
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