Thousands of people gather to protest downtown in support of Indian farmers

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TORONTO – Thousands of people took part in a downtown rally on Saturday afternoon to stand in solidarity with Indian farmers who face new laws they believe could threaten their livelihoods.

The protest began with a rally of cars from Bramalea GO Station to the Indian Consulate on Bloor Street East near Mt. Pleasant route.

At around noon, people started to gather at the consulate and a convoy of vehicles arrived shortly after.

Protesters were seen holding placards and flags as vehicles drove honking their horns in solidarity.

The protest supports rallies in India where protesters call on the Indian government to repeal new farming laws passed in September that farmers say are compromising their livelihoods.

“We represent here the farmers in India protesting against the three bills. We are here to represent farmers and be their voice outside of India and show that we support them and stand behind them, ”rally organizer Mansi Kaur told CTV News Toronto.

India protest

Protesters in India say the laws could cause the government to stop buying grain at guaranteed prices and lead to exploitation by companies who buy their crops at low prices.

However, the Indian government argues that the legislation provides for the necessary reform of the agricultural sector, which will give farmers the freedom to market their products and increase production through private investment.

“… It would be like removing the minimum wage for people here,” said Toronto rally organizer Nanki Kaur. So farmers basically don’t have a minimum wage and with these three bills what would happen is that since there is no longer a minimum wage, businesses would move onto farms and they could indicate any price for the farmers’ cake, for the wheat, for whatever they sell. ”

India protest

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau commented on the protests in India earlier this week and said “the situation is worrying.”

“Canada will also be there to defend the rights of peaceful protests. We believe in the importance of dialogue and that is why we have contacted in multiple ways directly the Indian authorities to highlight our concerns, ”Trudeau said Monday during a virtual celebration for Guru Nanak Dev Ji Gurpurab, a festival to mark the 551st anniversary. of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism.

Agriculture supports more than half of India’s 1.3 billion people. But farmers have faced economic hardships over the past three decades. Farmers once accounted for a third of India’s gross domestic product, but today they produce just 15 percent of gross domestic product, valued at $ 2.9 trillion annually.

-With files from Ben Cousins ​​of CTV News and the Canadian Press

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