Gandhi is hero for protesters at G-20 summit

By Gurmukh Singh, IANS,

Toronto: As Toronto virtually went under lockdown before the G-20 summit beginning Saturday, anti-globalisation protesters marched through city streets to give the security forces a tough time. In one such anti-poverty protest, Mahatma Gandhi figured prominently.

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As more than 200 protesters played hide and seek with security forces, one could read this message from Gandhi on a few T-shirts:

To deprive a man of his natural liberty and

to deny him the ordinary amenities of life

Is worse than starving the body;

It is starvation of the soul,

the dweller in the body – Mahatma Gandhi

But big union demonstrations are slated for Saturday when G-20 leaders sit for the summit.

The commercial heart of Canada wore a deserted look Friday, with very few people on the roads. All major tourist sites, including the world famous CN Tower, around the summit venue, the Metro Convention Centre, were shut down.

There was few vehicles on roads and fewer pedestrians and visitors. All one could see was security personnel in clusters every few yards to suppress dissent. Over in the skies, chopper sorties kept a watch on possible trouble makers.

Security forces have been given extra powers to arrest anyone within five metres of the security fence ringing the venue. Those arrested faces two months in jail and possibly a $500 fine.

Despite the unprecedented security arrangements, there was a bomb scare at the Toronto police headquarters when a suspicious-looking package was spotted on a tree planter. But it turned out to be a purse.

There was also a bit of scare in the skies when a small pontoon plane owned by Georgian Bay Airways was forced to land near Barrie – not far from where G-8 leaders were meeting in the resort of Huntsville.

Failure of the plane’s radio system alarmed security agencies which forced the female pilot to land the plane near Barrie, about 70 km from Toronto.

In the post 9/11-world, Canadian authorities have justified imposing curfew-like conditions as they host the world leaders. But people or the media are not pleased. More so after the huge $1.2 billion tab that the taxpayers will be picking up for the two summits.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is to arrive for the summit here Saturday.

(Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at [email protected])