Indian PM Narendra Modi Gets Raucous Welcome from Thousands in Toronto

By Perkel, Colin | The Canadian Press, April 16, 2015 | Go to article overview

Indian PM Narendra Modi Gets Raucous Welcome from Thousands in Toronto


Perkel, Colin, The Canadian Press


Indian PM gets raucous welcome in Toronto

--

TORONTO - Thousands chanted "Modi, Modi" to welcome Narendra Modi to Toronto on Wednesday night as the Indian prime minister made his first visit to Canada.

On a day in which he announced the relationship between India and Canada was now back on track and signed several agreements, Modi addressed an enthusiastic crowd in an arena.

Modi, speaking only in Hindi, said there are a lot of problems in India but solutions lie in only one thing: development.

"We must develop and surge ahead," Modi said, adding that India used to be known for its scams, and he wants it to be known for its skills.

Despite turning those without tickets away, there were empty seats in the Ricoh Coliseum as Prime Minister Stephen Harper introduced Modi to the cheers of the crowd.

"His visit to Canada is historic ... the first stand alone bilateral visit to Canada by an Indian prime minister in more than four decades," Harper said.

Near the arena, a group of about 150 protesters chanted slogans such as "Modi is a terrorist" and called for Modi's prosecution.

They say he's an extremist Hindu nationalist with blood on his hands from his time as chief minister of Gujarat state.

They were in a courtroom earlier Wednesday but failed to launch a private prosecution of the Indian leader after the attorney general last week decided against taking any action.

Sikh advocacy groups allege his "acts and omissions" resulted in a massacre of Muslims in his state in 2002.

The groups' lawyer, Marlys Edwardh, said in a statement there were reasonable and probable grounds to believe that Modi engaged in the crimes.

Jatinder Grewal, a spokesman for Sikhs for Justice, said after a seven-hour court session Wednesday the justice of the peace agreed there was enough evidence to continue with a private prosecution against Modi, but the Crown declined to proceed.

"I'm saddened that (Canada) did not try to obtain justice for the thousands of victims that were murdered and innocent women who were raped through Modi's actions," Grewal said.

A few hours earlier, Modi and Harper waved from the plane to about 150 cheering supporters assembled on the tarmac at Pearson International as they arrived from Ottawa. A group of traditional dancers provided part of the colourful welcome.

In Ottawa, the two leaders agreed the signed agreements were just a first step toward deepening economic ties, and that the relationship between the two countries hadn't yet lived up to its potential.

"Canada is a major Asia-Pacific power and should play a more active role, including in regional institutions," Modi said. …

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