Car rally near Toronto hails Indo-Canadian collaboration in Covid vaccine supply
A rally involving nearly 350 cars was held in the township of Brampton in Greater Toronto Area on Sunday to mark the cooperation between New Delhi and Ottawa over the supply of made-in-India Covid-19 vaccines to Canada.
The three-hour-long car rally featured flags from both the countries and involved 22 Indo-Canadian organisations.
The first consignment of the AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured by the Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) is scheduled to arrive in Toronto on March 3. The shipment will have 500,000 doses. A total of two million shots will be sent to Canada by mid-May.
One of the organisers of the car rally, Naresh Chavda, a legal professional from Toronto, said the objective was “to strengthen Indo-Canadian unity because India is helping Canada with vaccines, and to celebrate that”.
The Brampton rally took place in the shadow of increasing tensions in Canada as pro-Khalistan elements have been showing solidarity with those demonstrating against farm reform laws passed in India.
During the event, some protesters had tried to block the rally, but were cleared by police. Participants at the rally recalled that some of the protesters shouted abusive slogans and caused minor damage. In a flier sent out earlier, the rally’s organisers had warned participants to stay away from reacting to people who opposed the event.
“We require peace because of the way in which Khalistanis are destabilising the community in the GTA and Vancouver due to anti-Indian government protests, while, at the same time, India is helping many countries including Canada with vaccines,” said one of the organisers who wished not to be named.
Also this weekend, a ‘kisan’ rally (pro-farmer rally) was held with the backing of the Ontario Gurdwara Committee, Sikh Motorcycle Club of Canada, Guru Nanak Mission Canada, and the Shiromani Akali Dal Amritsar Canada.
One of the organisers, Sukhminder Singh Hansra, a leading pro-Khalistan figure in the country, told HT that there was “amazing enthusiasm” for the rally with a “big gathering” as people listened to speeches and a play on radio.
Meanwhile, left-of-centre and union groups took out a full-page advertisement in leading Canadian daily, Toronto Star, criticising the Indian government over the farm laws that have sparked protests in India.
Under the headline “Statement of Solidarity with Farmers of India”, the advertisement says the “recent declarations of support for the farm laws by the IMF and the US government indicate the range of forces backing them, adding an anti-imperialist dimension to the struggle against them”.