Toronto (Canada), July 18: Hundreds of Canadians from all walks of life gathered outside the Indian Consulate in Toronto on July 16 denouncing Indian army crimes against innocent Kashmiris. Organized by the Friends of Kashmir, Canada, the rally attracted Canadians of different backgrounds including many of Kashmiri and Pakistani origins but also a large number of Sikhs and other Canadians.
They not only raised slogans against Indian crimes but speakers also drew attention to the decades-long oppression of Kashmiris by the brutal Indian army. It was repeatedly emphasized that Kashmir is not part of India and has never been.
There are several UN Security Council resolutions calling for a referendum in Kashmir. When the Indian army first occupied the state in October 1947, Indian rulers promised to respect the wishes of the people but as they tightened their grip on Kashmir, they backed out of this pledge given not only to the people of Kashmir but also the entire world.
Today, India maintains an army of occupation of more than 700,000 of which some 300,000 are stationed in Srinagar, the capital city. This makes Srinagar the most militarized city in the world with one soldier for every three civilians.
The latest spike in protests occurred in the aftermath of the Indian army’s killing of Burhan Wani, the charismatic 22-year-old commander of Hizbul Mujahideen. Wani had become an icon in the Kashmiri struggle and inspired a large number of youth to join the freedom struggle. He was media savvy and used the social media to good effect.
Initially, the Indian occupation army chortled at its “success” in killing Wani in a remote village on the night of July 8. However, as soon as news of Wani’s death spread, people came out into the streets condemning his killing and demanding the immediate withdrawal of Indian troops from Kashmir.
Indian occupation forces responded with their customary brutality and have already killed some 43 people and injured several hundred others. Men, women and children have been mercilessly beaten up.
In a new twist, Indian troops are using rubber-coated steel pellets and deliberately aiming them at people’s eyes. Hundreds of Kashmiri youth have gone blind as a result of being hit with these pellets.
Young Alia Khawaja, Ali Mallah, Zafar Bangash, Habib Yousufzai, Sardar Sukhminder Singh Hansra, Balkar Singh, Sukhder Singh Gill and Farooq Papa addressed the rally condemning Indian crimes in Kashmir.
ICIT Director Zafar Bangash called upon the Canadian government to take note of Indian crimes and demanded that sanctions be imposed on India to force it to comply with international law and Security Council resolutions. He also urged the Canadian prime minister to cancel his forthcoming visit to India until it fulfills its international obligations for a plebiscite in Kashmir.
The rally participants and organizers vowed to continue their protests until Kashmir achieves its freedom from the clutches of the brutal Indian army.