kashmir protest toronto

Thousands show support for Kashmir during massive protest in Toronto

An estimated 2,000 people flooded the area surrounding Toronto's Nathan Phillips Square on Sunday to speak out on behalf of the people of Kashmir, a region which recently had its statehood and autonomy revoked by the Government of India.

It was one of several high-profile political demonstrations to take place in Toronto this hot, steamy weekend, and the largest in terms of attendees.

Holding signs with messages such as "I stand with Kashmir," "12 million Kashmiris under lockdown" and "[Indian Prime Minister Narendra] Modi is the new Hitler," protesters listened peacefully as speakers called attention to the long-disputed region's plight.

They also chanted and marched around the square, where an India Day celebration happened to be taking place at the same time.

Police set up barriers and maintained a steady presence to ensure members of both groups were safe.

Protesters have staged several demonstrations in Toronto this month to raise awareness about the revocation of Article 370, a constitutional provision which allowed both Kashmir and Jammu to govern themselves internally for decades despite being an Indian state.

More recently, protests have focused on calling out the Indian government for cuting off all communication links between Kashmiri citizens and the outside world.

Protesters in Toronto are asking Canada's federal government to step in and formally condemn the security lockdown, as well as India's arrest of many political leaders in Kashmir.

Police in Toronto say no arrests were made during the protest, and no intense clashes have been reported. Rain, while heavy at times, did nothing to interrupt the peaceful demonstrations.

Human rights groups around the world have condemned the revocation of Article 370, which India's Hindu nationalist government is defending as a way to spur economic development and investment within the Muslim-majority region.

Critics say the revocation of Article 370 is unconstitutional, if not illegal, and warned ahead of the move that it would lead to serious unrest within the already-conflicted Himalayan territory.

A UN spokesperson called India's move to strip Kashmir of its autonomy "deeply concerning" last week, but have yet to successfully mediate a resolution.

Lead photo by

Harun Elbinawi


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