On Sunday 4th October, a protest erupted in London in support of Punjab Farmers.
Why are Punjab farmers fighting for change, and what inspired them to take to the streets for support?
These key moments in Sikh history contextualise the situation:
- For over 150 years since the annexation of Punjab by the British in 1849, the Sikh people have resisted foreign occupation in efforts for self-determination in accordance with the Sikh values of Patshahi and Miri-Piri
- In the 1960s, nearly 60,000 Sikhs were arrested for demanding the right to speak their native Punjab language rather than Hindi
- Between 1984 and 1995, Sikhs fought a war for their independence
Recent changes proposed by the Indian government are seen as a further intrusion on the Sikh way of life. The new laws would:
- Abolish longstanding agricultural subsidies, enabling corporations to dictate crop prices – leading to a further price imbalance between local producers and larger corporations
- Influence crop rotation – steering it towards profitability rather than what is best ecologically
Ultimately, the Punjab people fear they’ll be marginalised to the point of silence, and that ancestral lands will be engulfed by corporate interests.
The Punjab community in London took to the streets to show their solidarity, to demonstrate that discrimination based on religion will not be tolerated.
NPN caught up with protest organisers, who shared the passion of the Punjab youth and their desire for change in the upcoming generation of Sikhs.