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Wednesday, Nov 13, 2019

Canada’s India Day Parade: Police thwart pro-Pak, Khalistani groups from disturbing event

The protesters waved Pakistani flags and those of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, as well as Khalistan pennants.

world Updated: Aug 20, 2019 01:14 IST
Anirudh Bhattacharyya
Anirudh Bhattacharyya
Hindustan Times, Toronto
The protesters waved Pakistani flags and those of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, as well as Khalistan pennants.
The protesters waved Pakistani flags and those of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, as well as Khalistan pennants.(HT image)
         

Even though hundreds of protesters were bused into Toronto by pro-Pakistan and Khalistani groups as the city hosted its India Day Parade, an efficient and visible police presence at the venue prevented violence at the venue, barring minor scuffles.

The India Day Parade is the signature celebration in Canada marking Independence, and attracts nearly 50,000 visitors each year. This year, though, Indian officials were concerned as Kashmir separatists joined hands with Khalistanis to protest the abrogation of Article 370 by Parliament.

Over a thousand protesters, many bused in from various parts of the Greater Toronto Area or GTA, arrived at the venue, Nathan Philips Square, but were prevented from causing any disturbance within the area and were restricted to the periphery by Toronto Police. Bike-borne cops patrolled the area and shooed away the handfuls of protesters who tried to enter the Square, where the India Day celebrations were taking place. Barricades had also been erected to separate the protesters from the thousands of visitors, including several families who thronged the stalls at the venue.

No arrests were reported by the police and there were only stray incidents of confrontation as police stepped in with alacrity to prevent any escalation and repetition of events in London on August 15, where similar protests led to violence directed at those from the Indian diaspora observing Independence Day at the country's mission there. The protesters waved Pakistani flags and those of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, as well as Khalistan pennants.

The Sunday celebration in Toronto was officiated by India's Acting Consul General Saifullah Khan.

The parade also featured floats representing states and territories from India, including one jointly for the newly-created union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

Celebrations were also held in other Canadian cities as is the norm on the first Sunday after Independence Day. These included the Unity Day Parade in Montreal and Independence Day Parade in the country's capital Ottawa, where India's High Commissioner Vikas Swarup officiated as the tricolour was raised at City Hall with Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson present.