A ‘drive-in and park protest’ in support of Indian farmers is happening in Cloverdale this Saturday (Jan. 16).
The Surrey Challo event, which will be at the Cloverdale Recreation Centre, is described as “a cultural awakening & lively protest.”
A release from organizers says a “community collective of activists, advocates and artists come together to voice and express their solidarity with those being persecuted for freedom of expression.
There have been several rallies in Cloverdale since late 2020 to support the farmers in India who are protesting three bills that had been put forward to the country’s central government in September.
Moninder Singh, the spokesperson for the B.C. Gurdwaras Council, previously told the Now-Leader there were three bills put forward in India’s central government back in September that would affect “small-time farmers” in India.
“What it essentially does is it takes away something called the MSP, which is the minimum support price that farmers rely on. So depending on how the economy’s going… they have a minimum support price they can rely on that the government will buy their produce and their product at. Once that’s stripped away, they’re left to a free market,” explained Singh.
“In that part of the world, a free market is essentially a death sentence for most of these small-time farmers.”
He added it leaves the farmers “at the power of the larger corporations” who can, with no minimum support price, “lower the prices which they buy at.”
The Surrey Challo event says “the protest in India has awoken an entire nation and its diaspora, mobilized by artists who released #songsofrevolution and artwork to express their support for the farmers and question the legitimacy of India’s democracy.
“The uprising originated in Punjab, where music plays a vital role in creating a connective thread for its culture … Throughout the protest community sites surrounding Delhi, boliyan (passed down narratives of expression) are sung decrying the Indian and state governments. The boliyan are set against the amplified sounds of the dhol (Punjabi drum), which is historically is used to announce battle.”
The event will include speeches and performances by about 20 individuals and groups.
A poster for the event says people can arrive and park their vehicles at 1 p.m., with the speakers and artists starting at 2 p.m. It adds people can bring signs, flags, dhols and “noise.”
People are asked to remain in their vehicles and follow all COVID-19 rules.