Crowd gathers at Auckland’s Aotea Square to protest against India’s new agriculture laws

About 1500 from the local Indian community have staged a protest at Auckland’s Aotea Square to raise concerns over new agricultural laws in their home country they fear may hurt farmers there.

Three new laws were passed in India in September to deregulate the agricultural sector by encouraging farmers to sell directly to companies. This would remove the role of the government, which has long been the middleman, and guaranteeing minimum prices for crops.

“We want New Zealand to pressure the Indian government to repeal these laws which will force farmers there to go into further debt,” said Harpreet Singh, one of the protest organisers.

Singh’s father was formerly a farmer and he has an uncle in farming, and says many Indians living here will have families who were directly or indirectly involved with farming.

“India is basically an agri country, and without government support basically the safety net for farmers will be removed,” he said.

After talks between union representatives and government officials broke down last week, protests spread from India’s capital of New Delhi to other Indian cities and abroad.

Sikhs in the United States joined a car caravan near the Indian Consulate in San Francisco, and protests in Canada have resulted in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau voicing solidarity with the protests.

Singh said he hoped Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern would follow Trudeau’s lead and add pressure to India.

New Zealand is home to a large Indian population with the 2018 census reporting close to 240,000 people identifying as being part of the Indian ethnic group.

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