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SFJ, Kashmiri separatists to hold joint protest at Indian missions on I-Day | cities

Pro-Khalistan groups are joining hands with Kashmiri separatists for protests at Indian missions on August 15 in Canada, a development that India is being watchful about.

The pro-Khalistan group, Sikhs for Justice or SFJ, which was recently banned by the Indian government, is planning protest rallies in Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver in Canada and also in the United States, England and elsewhere in Europe. SFJ’s legal adviser Gurpatwant Singh Pannun said for the first time, they will also be joined by groups representing Kashmiris, after the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir.

“The Kashmiri groups will be with us everywhere,” Pannun said, of the joint action. While the ban has been enforced in India, Pannun said no prohibition had been imposed on the activities of the SFJ in Canada.

Given that Indian missions hold multiple functions to observe Independence Day, there is concern over attempts to disrupt those celebrations. Special attention is being paid to the headline event that is held every year in downtown Toronto on Independence Day, which tends to attract nearly 50,000 people of Indian origin. The “India Day Parade” is among the largest in the world, outside India.

This year, the event is scheduled for August 18 (Sunday) with the venue being Toronto’s Nathan Philips Square, which is adjacent to City Hall. However, the Friends of Kashmir Committee Canada has also announced a protest rally at that very venue on the same day. While the rally is being allowed to go ahead by the authorities, a Toronto Police spokesperson said they “will provide officers to separate the groups” and “to keep the peace.” Pro-Khalistan groups are also expected to participate in the rally, dubbed “Stand with Kashmir”.

The Friends of Kashmir Committee has echoed Pakistan’s stand on Kashmir in the past and organised events jointly with its consulate in Toronto.

First Published: Aug 13, 2019 19:50 IST

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