(Water cannons deployed against farmers protesting in Delhi/Twitter @bhabyasinha2)

Members of the Indian diaspora and Sikh community in Victoria are planning a COVID-safe rally in support of farmers peacefully protesting agricultural laws in India.

The car rally, organized by Sikh Youth of Victoria, will take place between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, traversing from Mayfair Mall to the Legislature building.

The rally is in support of the tens of thousands of farmers who have taken to the streets of India’s capital to protest agricultural deregulation laws that open the market to mass privatization, leaving farmers unprotected against the powers of larger corporations.

Farmers from the nearby states of Punjab and Haryana were met with tear gas and water cannons at the hands of police while trying to protest in Delhi.

This treatment of peaceful protesters in India has caused consternation in BC, which is home to a large population of immigrants from the Punjab region.

As of 2016, census reports show that 244,485 Punjabi-speaking people live in BC.

“As families in BC and around the world celebrate Gurpurab and the spirit of equity and social justice, we stand in solidarity with Punjab Farmers calling for meaningful dialogue and peace,” wrote BC Premier John Horgan in a tweet on Monday.

Rachna Singh, MLA for Surrey Green Timbers also took to Twitter recently to express her dismay at the treatment of farmers in Punjab.

“We are concerned that predatory corporations will take over farming in India, leaving small farmers destitute,” reads an emailed statement from Sikh Youth of Victoria.

“Furthermore we are concerned about our family and friends who have been subjected to water cannon and tear gas as they peacefully protest.”

The group has organized the car rally as a gesture of solidarity with farmers in India.

Vehicles taking part in the rally will gather at Mayfair Mall at 1 p.m. before departing at 1:30 p.m.

The cars will then drive down Blanshard to Belleville Street, turn at Menzies, and potentially circle the Legislature building.

The rally will end at the Legislature building where the cars are expected to disperse.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke out in support of farmers protesting in India at an online event on Monday, calling the situation “concerning”.

“Canada will always be there to defend the right to peaceful protest. We believe in the importance of dialogue and that’s why we’ve reached out through multiple means directly to the Indian authorities to highlight our concerns,” he said.

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