Indians Abroad for Pluralist India holds rally for Kashmir in Surrey

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      South Asian activists came together at a rally today in Surrey to raise their voices against India's growing repression against the people of Kashmir. 

      Organized by Indians Abroad for Pluralist India (IAPI), the demonstration was in response to the Modi government's revocation of special status to the northern Indian state and the detention of its leaders.

      The Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) regime made this move without any debate in parliament or consultations with the people affected.

      Kashmir is a Muslim-dominated state

      Kashmiris and Sikhs joined today's rally, where speakers unanimously condemned the BJP government’s decision.

      The speakers also expressed solidarity with the people of Kashmir who've have been fighting for the right to self-determination.

      They demanded that the Canadian government speak out against human rights abuses in Kashmir.

      Many at the rally also signed letters addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, asking him to break his silence.

      This is the letter to Justin Trudeau that rally participants signed.

      The speakers also expressed dissatisfaction with a weak statement issued by his government on the issue. Some plan to organize demonstrations outside the riding offices of different MPs in the near future. 

      Not a single elected official from Trudeau’s Liberal party was present even though organizers had invited them. 

      However, Surrey-Newton Conservative candidate Harpreet Singh spoke at the event. Singh, an independent TV broadcaster, has been very vocal against growing attacks on religious minorities in India.

      Former New Democratic MP and strong human rights advocate Svend Robinson sent a statement in solidarity with the people of Kashmir. It was read out by Fleetwood–Port Kells NDP candidate Annie Ohana, who was joined by the NDP candidate in South Surrey–White Rock, Stephen Crozier.

      Some speakers criticized MLAs from the B.C. NDP government for remaining silent on the issue and maintaining cozy relations with the pro-India lobby.  

      Others who delivered speeches included Kashmiri activists Auzeb Manzoor, Syed Hamza, and Zainab Tramboo.

      Sikh activists Hardeep Singh Nijjar, Gian Singh Gill, Inderjit Singh Bains, and Barjinder Singh, and Sikh scholars Gurvinder Singh Dhaliwal and Charanjit Singh also spoke at the event. Among the leftists who addressed the gathering were Rawait Singh and Avtar Gill, as well as IAPI members.  

      The rally began with a moment of silence for 63 who died and 180 who were injured in a terrorist attack in a Shia area of Kabul. ISIS has claimed responsibility.