New Delhi: After much speculation and uncertainty Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Wednesday.
Mr Singh also interacted with all six ministers accompanying Mr Trudeau, in a significant departure from his stance linked to the Khalistan controversy.
The Chief Minister said he had raised the “Khalistan issue” with Mr Trudeau, and had been assured that Canada does not support any separatist movement in India or elsewhere.
The categorical assurance from Trudeau came when Captain Amarinder sought the Canadian Prime Minister’s cooperation in cracking down on separatism and hate crime by a fringe element, constituting a miniscule percentage of Canada’s population.
Citing the separatist movement in Quebec, Trudeau said he had dealt with such threats all his life and was fully aware of the dangers of violence, which he had always pushed back with all his might, the Chief Minister’s Media Advisor Raveen Thukral disclosed after the meeting.
During a 40-minute long meeting here between the two leaders, the Punjab Chief Minister handed over to Trudeau a list of nine Category `A’ Canada-based operatives alleged to be involved in hate crimes in Punjab by financing and supplying weapons for terrorist activities, and also engaged in trying to radicalize youth and children here.
At the meeting, at which Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and Punjab Local Government Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu were also present, the Chief Minister raised the issue of Indo-Canadians believed to be involved in targeted killings in Punjab, urging him to take cognizance of the same and initiate stern action against such elements.
Though freedom of speech was enshrined in the Indian Constitution, separatists and hardliners as well as those propagating violence, had lost any such right as they had been rejected outright by the people of Punjab, said Captain Amarinder. He pointed out that people fighting elections on the plank of a separate Sikh state ended up losing their security deposits, said Thukral, adding that the Chief Minister thanked Trudeau for his explicit stand on a united India.
The Canadian Prime Minister assured Captain Amarinder of addressing all concerns raised by the latter, saying he looked forward to closer ties with India, particularly with Punjab, which he was happy to see progressing well.
During the meeting, Captain Amarinder called for cooperation between India and Canada on the issues of terrorism, crime and drugs, while seeking greater sharing of relevant information, in the interest of national and international security.
Citing the close historical ties between the two countries, particularly in the context of the contribution of both Indians and Canadians in the Great War, Captain Amarinder underlined the need for their governments to work closely together in mutual interest. He pointed out that 64,000 Canadian and 74,000 Indian soldiers who fought in the 1st World War were lying buried together in 134 cemeteries, creating an unbreakable tie between the two countries.
The two leaders agreed on the importance of strengthening cooperation between their countries across various areas of bilateral relations, with the Chief Minister expressing Punjab’s keenness to engage with Canada in several vital domains related to economic cooperation.
The Chief Minister mentioned his government’s `Connect with Your Roots’, which he said could facilitate youth from Punjabi Diaspora in Canada to come and see Punjab, and urged the Canadian government to support the programme. Both Trudeau and Sajjan appreciated the effort and agreed with the Chief Minister that it would help a whole new generation of youngsters who had never seen India.
This was the first time any Punjab Chief Minister met the Prime Minister of Canada. Chief Principal Secretary Suresh Kumar and Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh also accompanied Captain Amarinder.
Trudeau and his ministers came to the meeting after paying obeisance at the Golden Temple and visiting the Partition Museum. After receiving the visiting Prime Minister, Amarinder shook hands with defense minister Harjit Sajjan during the discussion. Trudeau is the second Canadian PM to visit the city after Stephen Harper who visited the Golden Temple in 2009.
The two leaders agreed on the importance of strengthening cooperation between their countries across various areas of bilateral relations, with the CM expressing Punjab’s keenness to engage with Canada in several vital domains related to economic cooperation. The two leaders agreed to collaborate through joint projects aimed at facilitating progress of both, Canada and India.
Canada is home to a vibrant Indian diaspora, with approximately 1.4 million Canadians of Indian heritage. The Indo-Canadian community makes significant contributions to Canadian society in a range of areas, including business, arts and culture, health care and medicine, public service, journalism, advocacy, and philanthropy.