Farm law repeal: In UK diaspora, one refrain: a decision in time could’ve saved many lives

The Indian diaspora community in the UK, especially Sikhs and Punjabis who have been continuously supporting the farmers’ struggle in India financially and otherwise, expressed satisfaction over the decision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to repeal the controversial agri laws, but some say it should have come much earlier and hundreds of lives could have been saved.

Supreme Sikh Council UK secretary general Gurmel Singh Kandola “cautiously welcomed” the announcement to repeal the agri laws. “We now await to see when the Parliament formally takes the laws off. The guaranteed MSP (minimum support price) remains a key outstanding issue. Huge price has been paid by the agricultural workers particularly the Sikhs — over 700 have died and huge hardship is being endured by the protestors. Several hundred are tied up in legal processes on trumped up charges. Many diaspora Sikhs have been vilified for providing humanitarian aid to the farmers. The government now also needs to withdraw the charges in good grace and enter into constructive dialogue with the farmers representatives,” Kandola told the Indian Express.

Sanjay Jagatia, Chair of the Hindu Think Tank UK (@HindusinUK) said “it was heartening” to hear Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announce the repeal of the three controversial farm laws. “Thousands of farmers have been camping at Delhi’s borders since last November and many have died from heat, cold and Covid, as a result. We hope that the protesting farmers will now call off the protest,” said Jagatia.

“The farmers didn’t deserve to be so mistreated and they have made enormous sacrifices to preserve their way of life. Given their valiant struggles, I am glad that the controversial farm laws have been repealed,” said Slough MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, who had raised farmers’ issue in the British Parliament. “Sections of media and establishment busy labelling farmers and those standing in solidarity with them as ‘terrorists and separatists’ may well want to apologise,” he added.

Ealing Southall MP Virendra Sharma said, “I am pleased to see that the Indian government has listened to the citizens and is rethinking the farm laws. It is right for the Indian government to propose changes to the country to modernise systems, but some may go too far too fast. As someone who was born in India, I want to see the country thrive and go from strength to strength, and I look forward to the UK and India collaborating on ambitious international agreements.”

“This hugely welcome news is a huge victory for the farmers and families who protested against them and sacrificed so much,” tweeted Seema Malhotra, MP from Feltham and Heston.

Gurmail Singh Malhi, president of Sri Guru Singh Sabha Southall, the largest Sikh gurdwara in Europe that has helped organise huge demonstrations and fundraising in support of the farmers and even took part in COP26 protests, welcomed PM Modi’s announcement to repeal these laws, but added “had the decision come in time, a huge loss of life and resources could have been averted.”

Ghadar International’s Salvinder Dhillon, a vocal community voice for socialism, said, “The struggle should continue till the repeal has actually been implemented. The labour and trade unions should learn from this farmers’ movement and their long-term fight has to go on till they get power to make their own decisions.”

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