Tens of thousands of Canadians packed Toronto’s iconic Nathan Philip Square to raise their voices in support of the oppressed Kashmiris.
Organized by Friends of Kashmir, Canada, people from all walks of life attended the protest demonstration. They included Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and people of other faiths.
Young and old, children as well as people in wheelchairs were there to lend support to their Kashmiri brothers and sisters. The protesters were carrying banners reading slogans like, “Modi is the New Hitler”, “Who said Hitler is Dead, Meet Modi, the PM of India”, “12 Million Kashmiris under Lockdown” and “Stop Genocide in Kashmir”.
At its peak, the crowd was so large that it could not be accommodated in the square so people had to climb to the overhead walkway to watch the rally below. The rally was held to coincide with India’s independence day celebrations paid for the Indian Consulate in Toronto where an India Food Festival was also held.
Realizing the size of the rally in support of the people of Kashmir, Indian consulate staff maintained a low profile and canceled a number of events including a formal opening ceremony, settling for music blaring from their loudspeakers.
The several dozen vendors peddling greasy Indian food were also subdued, preferring to adopt a low profile aware that the rally participants were highly charged.
Speakers were not just from the Kashmiri or Pakistani communities but also included such well-known Canadian society figures as Sid Ryan, former President Ontario Federation of Labor, Journalist Phil Taylor of the famous Taylor Report, Peace Activist Ken Stone, Karen Rodman of Just Peace Advocates and Human Rights Lawyer, Stephen Ellis.
Framing it in the context of International law and based on UN Security Council resolutions, speakers repeatedly called upon the Canadian government to take a more forthright stand on the long-festering problem of Kashmir.
Rally organizers vowed that the struggle for the rights of the Kashmiris will continue until they achieve their legitimate aspirations to hold a referendum as contained in a number of UN Security Council resolutions.