Washington DC: Calling it an opportunity to fight for Indian farmers, members of Khalistani separatist groups along with others were seen in support of farmers outside the Indian embassy in Washington DC on Tuesday.
A protest hosted by Sikh DMV Youth and Sangat saw a few dozen people gathered in front of the Indian mission to criticise the new rules, which the Narendra Modi government passed in September as part of a broader effort to deregulate the nation's massive agriculture sector.
Many in the crowd held saffron-coloured 'Khalistan' flags and chanted anti-India slogans. Narender Singh, one of the leading agitators from Washington, called the rules a "violation of human rights and democracy of India.”
"Every year we mark January 26 as Black Day, but this year we are standing in solidarity with the farmers in India, who are not just Sikhs but belong to all faiths from across the country," Singh was quoted as saying by ANI.
United States: Khalistan supporters held a protest outside the Indian embassy in Washington DC in support of protest against farm laws in India. pic.twitter.com/tFFd1391pW
— ANI (@ANI) January 27, 2021
Some of the members protesting have often been regulars at anti-India protests often batting for a separate Khalistan state. Every year they intended to overshadow the Republic Day celebrations, but the Indian embassy had pre-decided to scale back the celebrations because of the coronavirus pandemic.
A month ago a Khalistan flag was seen draped over Mahatma Gandhi's statue near Indian Embassy in Washington DC where protestors were staging a similar protest, so this time security around the embassy and the Gandhi statue was beefed up.
Tens of thousands of protesting farmers drove long lines of tractors into India's capital on Tuesday, breaking through police barricades, defying tear gas and storming the historic Red Fort as the nation celebrated Republic Day.
When asked about the violence and how it was derailing the issues of the farmers, the protest leaders claimed police provoked the farmers into violence. "We do not believe in violence. If the Indian government wants violence, then the Sikhs will be violent too," said Udham Singh, a resident of Washington DC.
Similar protests have occurred in major American and Canadian cities over the last two months as farmers have been protesting at the Delhi border.
Many of the protests in the US have been led by the Sikh diaspora -- migrants or the children of migrants belonging to the Sikh community particularly-- living now in the United Kingdom, Canada and the US.
The farmers have been demanding the withdrawal of new laws they claim will favour large corporate houses and devastate the earnings of smaller farmers. The government insists that the recently passed agriculture reform laws will benefit farmers and boost production through private investment.
The group members also said that they plan to hold a bigger protest outside the embassy on August 15.