Having denied protocol to Canadian minister of Indian origin Harjit Singh Sajjan earlier in April, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh is ready to extend a warm welcome to Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau, who is expected to visit India early next year. Amarinder had courted a controversy when he had refused to meet Sajjan, the Candian Defence Minister, during his visit to the country in April saying he was a sympathiser of Khalistanis.
While Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar met him, Punjab denied protocol to Sajjan. Captain has taken a softer stance on Trudeau. “Justin Trudeau is more than welcome to come to Punjab when he visits India. And I will surely meet him.”
However, Captain said he would ensure to make his point on radical elements in Canada. “My only request to him (which I am willing to meet him and make personally too) is that he should rein in any elements in his government that are suspected of having anti-India and pro-Khalistani leanings and should not allow his government to become a hotbed of terrorist supporters,” Amarinder told the Indian Express.
Justin Trudeau is visiting India on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s invite, but the government was expecting him to visit Golden Temple since many of his ministers have roots in Punjab.
Whether Trudeau’s visit to India and Punjab would help Punjab-Canada ties, especially after the CM had called five ministers in Trudeau government “Khalistani sympathisers”, remains to be seen. Amarinder’s remark had evoked a sharp reaction from Canada, with its High Commission in Delhi saying on April 13, “The comments regarding Canada’s ministers are both disappointing and inaccurate.”
Amarinder’s reaction had come after Sajjan had sought a meeting with Punjab Chief Minister. Later, Sajjan visited the Golden Temple and his native village but was not accorded any welcome by the state.
The CM has been bitter with Canada ever since he was denied permission to hold rallies in the country in April last year. He, being the Punjab Congress president, was garnering support ahead of Assembly elections in Punjab.
When he was to visit Canada, he was denied permission to organise political rallies following protest by World Sikhs Organisation (WSO), who claimed Amarinder had given a clean chit to Congress leader Jagdish Tytler for his alleged involvement in 1984 riots.
Amarinder had then lodged a strong protest with the Canadian Government and written a letter to Trudeau stating, “It feels like a gag order that has left a very bad taste, more so, when issued by a democratic government like the Canadian.” He had sought a reason from Trudeau for denying him permission.
He had stated that he had “planned to visit Canada to interact with my fellow Punjabis at personal level to learn about their experiences and seek their opinions.”
He had dubbed it as a denial of “ freedom of expression”, “peaceful assembly” and “association” to the Canadian citizens.