Shiromani Akali Dal politician and ex-MLA Virsa Singh Valtoha, in an interview with The Indian Express, says he was surprised at the “hype” created around the Khalistan issue during the visit of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He says he fears it may be part of “a bigger plan to divide communities”.
The Khalistan issue dominated Trudeau’s visit to India. How do you see it?
Canada has a high number of Indians and Punjabis. It is also called mini-Punjab. But all the controversy and fear created around the visit of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau by bringing in the Khalistan issue was surprising and unwanted. It has hurt India especially Punjab in many ways. We could have utilised this visit to mobilise NRIs to invest in Punjab or we could have asked for more friendly immigration policy from Canada. But negativity captured all the attention.
There are allegations that Khalistanis have a say in the Canadian government. You saw how Jaspal Attawal was standing next to Trudeau’s wife in that photograph..
It was the Indian government which removed Jaspal Singh Attawal from the blacklist. He was given visa to visit India many times in the past by none other than Indian government without any demand from Canadian government and he even visited office of the Ministry of External Affairs in 2017 and uploaded pictures on his Facebook profile and wrote ‘I Love India’. He shunned his past and Indian authorities knew it. Then, he suddenly became a terrorist during Trudeau’s visit. Even I was called a terrorist by the Congress party in Punjab assembly due to my past. But am I a terrorist? Are you talking to a terrorist? Will you mention me as terrorist in your report? It is clear that there were some forces within the Indian government who created a propaganda to make people think Khalistanis have a say in running the Canadian government.
But there was a resolution in the Ontario assembly against India.
Often non-Sikhs get confused between the Khalistan activists and those who demand justice for Sikhs and for Punjab. Those Sikhs, who demand justice for 1984 and even for the political demands of Punjab like right over river waters and demand of Chandigarh, are also painted as separatists and Khalistanis by media in India and Canada. Fact is that demanding Khalistan peacefully is not crime in India. Simranjit Singh Mann is demanding Khalistan for a long time in India. I couldn’t find a logic behind all the hype created over the Jaspal Attawal, who is visiting India since 1999.
How soon can we expect the dust to settle on this episode?
It may not end here. I am afraid this controversy around Trudeau’s visit may be part of some dangerous and bigger plan to divide the communities.