Published: 19:23, 26 January 2021
| Updated: 19:57, 26 January 2021
A group of Kent Sikhs have lit their Gurdwara up green in support of farmers protesting new agricultural laws introduced in India.
The Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara in Gravesend was illuminated this evening in a show of solidarity with family and friends living in the Punjab and other regions.
Today marks India’s Republic Day, but celebrations have been largely overshadowed by a day of protests in India.
Tens of thousands of farmers are said to have set up camp in the capital Delhi, rallying against new agricultural laws they say were passed without consultation with unions.
Agricultural workers are said to make up more than half the labour force in the south Asian country.
The Indian government believes the reforms that spurred the protests will liberalise the agriculture sector, but farmers argue they will have serious repercussions and many will lose their incomes.
Many of the Sikhs living in Gravesend have a background of farming in India, and are said to have relatives who are seriously affected by the new laws.
In a show of solidarity the Gurdwara decided to light up green tonight, the colour of the farmers' protests, and a huge banner supporting farmers has been hung outside reading “No Farmers, No Food”.
Manpreet Singh Dhaliwal, President of the Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara said: “During these challenging times of a global pandemic, the Indian government decided to bring in the new laws without proper consultation or discussion in Parliament.
"They have an impact on hundreds of millions and yet they weren’t consulted.
"We feel that we need to show support to those that are affected so adversely, many of us have family and friends who are directly affected.
"As Sikhs, we must stand up for the suppressed and support those in need.
"Thousands of Indian farmers commit suicide every year due to insurmountable debts, and these new laws will make their lives worse, not better.”
In December, a national strike led to over 300 million people protesting, the biggest strike that the world has ever seen.
Car rallies were also held in support in cities all over the UK and around the world, and over 100 cars from Gravesend joined the protest in London.
The cause has resonated with people of all ages, with young members of the community making banners to raise awareness among the wider UK community