Chandigarh: Ahead of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit to Amritsar, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Thursday welcomed a statement by two Canadian federal Ministers of Indian-origin that they did not sympathise with the Khalistan demand.
Amarinder Singh, who had refused to meet Indian-origin Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan during his visit to Punjab in April last year, said he was looking forward to meeting Trudeau.
In a statement here, Amarinder Singh welcomed the “categorical denial by Sajjan, the first Sikh to be Defence Minister of a western country, of taking a pro-Khalistani stance, and congratulated Trudeau for creating the necessary environment against secessionist forces (demanding separate Sikh homeland) believed to be operating from his country”.
“Sajjan’s statement, carried by the Canadian Press on Wednesday, that he and fellow Sikh Minister Amarjit Sohi, ‘neither sympathise with nor espouse the Sikh nationalist movement, which is bent on creating a separate country called Khalistan in India’s Punjab region’ indicated that the Canadian Prime Minister had clearly sent out a strong signal within his party and government that he would not allow his country’s soil to be used for any anti-India activities,” the Chief Minister said.
“The latest statements by Sajjan and Sohi, who has also made it clear that he does not sympathise with the (Khalistani) cause, have paved the way for better relations with Canada, which shares strong roots with India in view of the large Sikh population settled there,” Amarinder Singh said.
Reiterating that he had always found Trudeau to be a fine human being, the Chief Minister said he looked forward to meeting the Canadian leader during his visit to India, including Punjab, in February.
“The (Trudeau) visit will give Canada and Punjab an opportunity to strengthen trade ties for mutual benefit,” Amarinder Singh added.
The Chief Minister was upset with Canadian authorities earlier as the Indian-origin Ministers and some MPs in Canada had openly supported the secessionists’ agenda for Khalistan.
The Canadian government, under Trudeau, had objected to Amarinder Singh’s Canada visit in April 2016 to meet Non-Resident Indians ahead of Punjab’s assembly elections in February 2017.
Amarinder Singh was forced to cancel his visit abroad as Sikh radical elements and groups opposed it and represented to the Trudeau government.
“Divisive forces propagating terrorism should not be encouraged at any cost by any nation. Such activities pose a serious threat to global peace and hence not allowed to flourish in any part of the world. Nurturing or supporting separatist forces always proves detrimental in the long run, not only to countries against which they are unleashed but also to those which allow such elements to operate from their soil,” the Chief Minister added.
Amarinder Singh said Canada had always been a friend of India, especially Punjab, whose people had contributed significantly to the western nation’s progress.