Congress seeks clarification from Canadian minister on Khalistan

Bruno Cirelli
Aprile 18, 2017

Rejecting Canada's defence of Harjit Singh Sajjan, Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh today said he stood by his principled stand of not associating himself with any "Khalistani sympathizer". "This visit will further strengthen Canada and India's bilateral defence cooperation, and expand our partnership in the security and defence sectors". During his two-day stay in Punjab, he will also meet civil society organisations.

Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh's statement against Canadian defence minister Harjit Singh Sajjan terming him a "Khalistani sympathiser" has triggered a diplomatic row with the Canadian high commission on April 13 terming it "disappointing and inaccurate".

"Harjit Sajjan is a Khalistani sympathiser and so was his father", the Chief Minister alleged during a programme in a private TV channel. In Chandigarh, he will inaugurate the new office of Canada's Consulate General in Punjab.

Amarinder Singh has accused Sajjan, a highly decorated Afghan war veteran and former Vancouver police officer, of being a "Khalistani sympathiser" and refused to meet him, according to reports in the Indian media.

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In Punjab, opposition leaders from the Aam Admi Party and Akali Dal criticised the Chief Minister for the comments.

More than 30,000 Sikhs are estimated to have been killed in the anti-Sikh riots that followed the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her two Sikh bodyguards.

Urging New Delhi to be wary of China on the other border, he said it is time to mend fences and make friends with Pakistan.

The Punjab chief minister also made it clear he was not in favour of a ban on Pakistani artistes, and said he would be happy to invite them to Punjab and would also love to visit Pakistan again.

The Congress leader cancelled his Canada trip in April a year ago after Canadian authorities told him he could not allowed to visit that country for holding political rallies and meetings in the run-up to the 2017 Punjab assembly elections.

"There is no question of insulting a Punjabi or a Sikh in stating a fact about political leanings and inclinations of a particular leader just because he happens to be a Punjabi or a Sikh", they said and strongly supported Amarinder's stand in refusing to meet Sajjan.

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