Delhi, the capital city of India, has seen one of the worst riots in its history in past few weeks. The violence that has claimed at least 49 lives till last week started as a result of mass protest against the new citizenship laws passed by the central government which, according to many experts, open doors to serious discrimination based on religion.
In early March, violence broke out in Delhi when the pre-dominantly Muslim majority neighborhoods were subjected to targeted attacks by Hindu extremists. The resultant clashes between the two groups has seen houses, cars and businesses being burnt and men beaten to death in public. The Indian government has been accused of turning a blind eye and putting all its focus on giving the visiting US President a state reception while the city was burning.
As of last week, at least 49 people have been found dead, 35 of whom are Muslims. More bodies are still being recovered from drains and ditches. While the riots have seen helpless people being butchered in the name of religion, stories of heroics are also coming out. Stories of Muslim families, their houses and mosques being saved by Sikh religious leaders as well as their Hindu neighbours are showing hopes. The news and disturbingly graphic videos of the riots have set a wave of protests across the world, most recent of which took place in East York, near Victoria Park and Danforth intersection.
The rally in Toronto denouncing such violence was organized by Jalalabad Association of Toronto (JAT), one of the largest social and cultural organizations of the Bangladeshi-Canadian community in Toronto. The theme of the rally was “Standing up for Humanity” and the participants held banners and signs with messages against all religious, racial and sectarian divisions. Torontonians from all walks of life and all age groups, men, women and children, joined the rally.
The proceedings started by observing a minute of silence in memory of the people who have lost their lives. Then some of the community leaders gave speech denouncing the meaningless bloodshed and political game-play. In his speech, Mr. Debobrata Dey, the president of JAT said that JAT is a social organization above all religious and political division and as part of its social responsibility, has always stood up against all kinds of violence and bloodshed. He referred to the rallies organized by JAT in recent past, in protest of terrorist attacks in France, Sri Lanka, New Zealand and attacks against Hindu minorities in different parts of Bangladesh. Mr. Dey reiterated the fact that as one of the largest social organizations of the Bangladeshi-Canadian community in Toronto, JAT leadership has a special responsibility to raise its voice against all kinds of violence and extremist movements.
Members of several other social, cultural, political and religious organizations such as Toronto Durga Bari, Ontario Awamai League, Canadian branch of Bangladesh Udichi Shilpigoshthi, Progressive Democratic Initiative PDI, Moulovi Bazar Association, Sylhet Sadar Association, Noakhali Association, KUET Alumni Association, Association of Bangladeshi Engineers Ontario, Association of Bangladeshi Agriculturists in Canada, Hobigonj Association, Danforth Islamic Centre, Shunamgonj Association, Bangladesh Nationalist Party BNP, editors of leading community newspapers, lawyers and business leaders joined the rally. The General Secretary of JAT Mr. Mahbub Chowdhury Rony thanked all the participants for joining and conveyed special thanks to the community newspapers and TV channels for taking their message across GTA and beyond.
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