February 2017 News

Khalistani, Pro-Pakistan Kashmiri Groups Coordinating Actions In Canada

7 February 2017
The Hindustan Times
Anirudh Bhattacharyya

Toronto: The Indian government is monitoring increased coordination between Khalistani and pro-Pakistan Kashmiri groups, particularly in organising anti-India protests in countries such as Canada. While such protests have been staged in the recent past in London and New York, this 'new trend', according to one official, has become evident in the Greater Toronto Area. The latest joint protest was at the venue for the celebration of India's Republic Day in Brampton, a suburb of Toronto. The groups participating in that protest were the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), Canada, United Front of Sikhs and Jammu Kashmir Diaspora Alliance. Last year, these groups had highlighted the killing of Kashmiri militant commander Burhan Wani. Shouting slogans against the Indian government in downtown Toronto, across the street from an event to mark Independence Day, the organisers pointed to what they called the 'murder of the liberation leader of Maqbooza (occupied) Kashmir Burhan Muzaffar Wani'. Another protest was held in front of the Indian consulate in Toronto to 'raise concern over Indian forces committing genocide of Kashmiri people in Indian occupied Kashmir' and the announcement for that had described Wani as a 'freedom fighter'. The group, Friend of Kashmir, had joined that protest. A group with a similar name organised a Kashmir Black Day event at the Pakistani consulate in Toronto in November. Among those in attendance was Habib Yousafzai of the Jammu Kashmir Diaspora Alliance. Yousafzai confirmed that and told Hindustan Times: 'Whenever they call me, I go there.' He said such coordination between Kashmiris and Khalistanis had been going on for 'quite a long time'. However, that had been intermittent and appears to have escalated in recent years. Yousafzai said, 'They (Khalistanis) have their own grievances; they don't want to stay with India. We have our own grievances, we have a very known case.' In a blog post this January, Yousafzai wrote: 'Pakistan is incomplete without Kashmir. A strong Pakistan is a guarantee for liberation of Maqbooza Jammu Kashmir from Indian occupation.' However, in the interview to Hindustan Times, he said he was 'not a very rigid person' and accepted the 'ground reality'. In that context, he said a solution could lie in the Hindu-majority area in Jammu and Kashmir becoming Indian territory and Muslim-majority areas being ceded to Pakistan. He ruled out an independent Kashmir, asserting that the UN resolution on this matter only offered 'two options', either joining India or Pakistan. However, in an earlier blog post, he had mentioned that he spoke at the Pakistan consulate and said that, 'Pakistan is determined to liberate the remaining 42,000 square miles which is known as Maqbooza Kashmir under Indian occupation along with the 12 million Kashmiris which are the rightful citizens of Pakistan.' The number of protestors at such events had dropped in recent years, according to an official. However, the lower turnout appears to have made way for the protests to be bolstered through these joint actions.