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How Australian cops protected protesters favouring farmers' struggle in India


By Rajiv Shah
I was talking with a long-time friend of mine, Neeraj Nanda, editor, “South Asia Times”, which is brought out from Melbourne. He informed me, on February 7 he had gone to cover a pro-farmers’ rally in the town, where there was “massive” gathering (from current Australian standards, as coronovirus has just been “overcome”). The police was there to protect the protesters, he told me!Peaceful, the rally saw someone shouting “Bharat Mata Ki Jai.” The cops called him, queried him, and then he was asked to go, and he went away. “I asked the cops what did they ask him. And they replied that the person was from the opposite side, and that such disruption is not allowed. We we called him, and asked he to move out, which is what he did”, Nanda told me.
While Nanda said the Indian diaspora is “vertically divided” on the farmers’ protest in India, and that a candle light march was also planned on the same day evening, where he did not go, this is what he reported in “South Asia Times”:
“A massive rally at the Federation Square here today expressed solidarity with the agitating Indian farmers, who have been sitting in protest for more than two months at the borders of the capital Delhi. In the center of the Central Business District’s Federation Square, the peaceful crowd heard speeches of support from activists from different communities of the Indian diaspora here.
People from all over and far-flung places came with their families and stood with different placards in rain, wind, and sun. The organizers arranged drinking water and soft drinks and volunteers distributed them. Many passing and other Aussies also joined the protest meeting cum rally.
Speaker after speaker explained the demands of the farmers and why they were not good for them and Indian farming. It was also explained that the farmer’s agitation was getting support from states all over India. This was just one of the rallies that took place and such gatherings have taken place across Melbourne in many suburbs.”
Nanda also forwarded me a statement by the protesting organisers, laying down terms and conditions for the participants. It is worth reading:
"Peaceful Protest In Support of Indian Farmers and their rights to protest
Sunday 7th February, 10:00 am Federation Square Melbourne
General Instructions For Volunteers As We Will Gather At Federation Square, We All Must Ensure:
• This event has been organized in liaison with the concerned authorities Victorian Police, City of Melbourne Council, Parliament House Security and Federation Square Authority due to COVID restrictions and safety of our people and local residents.
• If anyone from our protest, try to demonstrate against our agenda's rules will be asked to leave the protest. if they do not, our team will refer to the police. As it's a planned peaceful protest, and we have set of rules in place.
• Keep masks and wear them where mandatory, maintain social distancing.
• This is the farmers only protest and farmers flags, symbols only are allowed.
• No slogans are part of this protest, as its peaceful demonstration with banners, posters and briefs on farmer laws and human rights violation.
• We will start gathering from 8 am as an organizing team and 10 am the protest will start.
• We do not allow speech on any religious demand, separatism, political or personal hate from our stage.
• Everyone volunteering on behalf of groups they bring to the protest must take details with name, phone numbers and address in order to safe keeping for authorities.
• All the volunteers and team members must ensure they report any violators at all times and asked to leave the protest.
• We have requested media to cover protest, as to aware people and Australian government of human rights violation happening in India.
• If anti-protestors take part to create clash or riot situation, as anti-farmer and political group spreading hate speech, they will be reported to authorities.
Sincerely: organisors Manvir Kaur, and Raji Mussavar”

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