G-20 protests turn violent
Sikhs hold peaceful march to seek justice for ’84 riot victims
Toronto, June 27
It was a day of protests in Toronto. Even as Canada’s anti- riot police had a tough time to control the protesters who turned violent on the eve of G-20 Summit, a small group of Sikhs held peaceful demonstration at an area designated for such rallies.
Protesters clashed with the police, set fire to at least four police vehicles in the city’s commercial hub near the Ontario provincial legislature along the Queen Street West shopping district.
Meanwhile, a small group of GTA (Greater Toronto Area) Sikhs, representing various organisations, came together at the Queens Park to raise concerns for human rights violations and to seek justice for 1984 Sikh genocide by organising peaceful protests. Earlier, the Prime Minister’s Office had contacted President of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee to use his good offices to persuade the members of the Sikh community to desist from organising any protest during the visit of Dr Manmohan Singh.
The government of Canada did not expect the rioters would rampage through the city’s downtown, the most crowded area of Toronto. The police failed to control the violent protests despite unprecedented multi-million dollar security arrangements. At least 75 persons were taken into custody following the violent protests. For the first time here the police had to use tear gas and ear-piercing sound cannons to disperse the crowd.
The protest organisers planned fresh rallies to mark the culmination of G-20 meetings. At least five rallies were scheduled in Canada’s most populous city, including a prayer vigil and a ‘bike block’, according to the ‘G8/G20 Toronto Community Mobilisation’.
In wake of the G-20 Summit, security forces had created a red zone and vehicular traffic was diverted at various places, adversely affecting normal business, thereby evoking mixed reaction from Canadian citizens. However, the stand of the Canadian government to make elaborate security bandobast has been vindicated by the violent protests in the backdrop of a raging public debate here on whether such investment on security is worth it?
“The thugs that prompted violence earlier today represent in no way the Canadian way of life,” Dimitri Soudas, a spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement, issued after the unprecedented and violent protests.