WALLAN’S Indian community came out in support of their homeland’s farmers last week, protesting new laws that would allow corporations to use valuable land and buy crops at reduced prices.
Up to 30 families attended the protest, organised by the Indian Sports and Multicultural Society Wallan, at a park on Botanical Avenue in Wallan’s south on Wednesday evening to show their support for relatives and compatriots affected by the new laws.
Indian Sports and Multicultural Society Wallan member Bikram Singh said Indian communities around the world were also protesting.
“Back in our country, we all are somehow related to farming. My dad is a farmer and the majority of people, the young families that moved here and migrated, they’re all attached to the farming back in our country,” he said.
“Everyone has their emotions, everyone wants to have their say that if someone does anything wrong to a farmer or to the families or to the farming community, they want to they want to tell the Indian government that we are together.
“I can’t go over there and protest with them, but I want to erase my voice and my concern for the farmers. If there are no farmers, there’s no food.”
The issue was also raised by Member for McEwen Rob Mitchell in Parliament on Tuesday.
Mr Mitchell said he had been contacted by constituents were concerned about escalating tensions between Punjabi farmers and the Indian government.
“There have been awful scenes of clashes between farmers and police with tear gas, water cannons and riot police called in to quell the protests over the passage of legislation which many farmers see as unfairly reducing their income,” he said.
“This issue is not unique to India. Here in Australia, family farming businesses have been preyed upon by corporate farming enterprises, and many families have been forced off the land.
“Recent studies show about 28 people who depend on farming in India die by suicide every day because of the growing debt, poor harvests and drought.
“We believe the right to peaceful protest is fundamental in any democracy, and I join with many in our communities who are very disturbed by the treatment of Punjabi farmers in India and those who fear for their safety while peacefully protesting.”