Justin Trudeau in India: Ending uncertainty, CM Amarinder Singh to meet Canadian PM on Wednesday
The visiting Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, often referred to as “Justin Singh” for his outreach to the Sikh community in Canada, will meet Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh in Amritsar on Wednesday.
“Look forward to meeting Canadian Prime Minister @JustinTrudeau in Amritsar on Wednesday. I’m hopeful that this meeting will help strengthen the close Indo-Canadian business ties as well as the deep-rooted people-to-people relations between our two countries,” Singh tweeted on Monday evening.
Look forward to meeting Canadian Prime Minister @JustinTrudeau in Amritsar on Wednesday. I’m hopeful that this meeting will help strengthen the close Indo-Canadian business ties as well as the deep-rooted people-to-people relations between our two countries.
The agenda is “open-ended”, said a source in the government. “We expect concerns and sensitivities from the Indian side to be conveyed appropriately. He will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday for bilateral talks,” said the source. Sources told The Indian Express that the Canadian High Commission was initially hesitant about scheduling a meeting with Singh. Trudeau, after landing in Delhi on Saturday, took the call to reach out for a meeting.
SEE PHOTOS | PM Justin Trudeau, family visit Sabarmati Ashram
In the past, Singh has alleged that some of Trudeau’s cabinet ministers are Khalistani sympathisers. He has also said that the Sikh community in Canada is a hotbed of Sikh separatists who support extremist elements.
Ahead of Trudeau’s visit, Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan had said on February 7 that Singh’s allegations were “offensive” and “ridiculous”. In his bilateral interactions with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Trudeau has maintained that his party and government are in favour of a “united India”, but his country allows freedom of expression which does not go against the rule of law. However, there has been concern in South Block over Trudeau’s actions in the last one year.
On April 30 last year, Trudeau attended the Toronto ‘Nagar Kirtan’, where Khalistani flags and pictures of slain terrorists like Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale were displayed. This was a departure from the past, as previous Canadian Prime Ministers have stayed away from such platforms.
Sources said there is a need to hold “some frank discussions” with Trudeau on this issue. While Modi had raised the issue with Trudeau during some of their bilateral interactions — the last one was on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Hamburg in July last year — sources said it is important to convey the importance of public opinion through the state leadership of Punjab.
New Delhi has been sensitive to Trudeau’s ruling Liberal Party kowtowing to the pro-Khalistan factions in the Canadian Sikh community. On April 6 last year, the Ontario Provincial Parliament had adopted a resolution moved by the Liberal Party’s MPP (Member of Provincial Parliament), Harinder Malhi, terming the 1984 anti-Sikh riots as “genocide”. She was rewarded with a cabinet berth in Ontario.
Upset with the development, India had described it as a “misguided motion based on a limited understanding of India, its Constitution, society, ethos, rule of law and its judicial process.” In recent months, over a dozen Canadian gurdwaras have reportedly banned the entry of Indian diplomats in their official capacity. That has also upset New Delhi. While there are at least 19 persons of Indian origin (PIOs) elected to the House of Commons, 17 — including 15 Sikhs — represent Trudeau’s Liberal Party. With four Sikhs in his cabinet, Trudeau has often joked that he has more Sikhs in his cabinet than Modi.
“We understand his party’s compulsion to reach out to the Sikh community for electoral reasons. But giving legitimacy to pro-Khalistan elements in the community is what we object to,” said a source.
Trudeau, who is on an eight-day state visit to India with his family, visited Agra on Sunday. On Monday, he went to Gujarat, where he offered prayers at the Swaminarayan Akshardham temple and Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad. He will be in Mumbai to meet the Indian business community on Tuesday, after which he will travel to Amritsar on Wednesday. He is scheduled to come to Delhi on Thursday before he leaves on Saturday.