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Uncertainty over Amarinder-Trudeau meeting on Sikh separatists in Canada

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Punjab CM Amarinder Singh to receive Canadian PM in Amritsar on 21 Feb; awaits MEA nod to his request for a one-to-one meeting with Justin Trudeau.

Chandigarh: Even as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives in India Saturday evening on a seven-day tour, uncertainty looms over his having a one-to-one meeting with Punjab CM Capt. Amarinder Singh on the issue of a Khalistani separatist movement allegedly being run from the Canadian soil.

Interestingly, Trudeau’s visit to India begins a day after a gurdwara in the memory of Sikh militant Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindrwanwale opened to the public in his native village, Rode, in Punjab’s Moga.

The CM, who will receive Trudeau in Amritsar on 21 February and accompany him to the Golden Temple, had sought a structured meeting with him from the ministry of external affairs (MEA). However, the MEA is yet to respond to this request, said a source in the chief minister’s office (CMO).

Amarinder Singh, sources said, wished to discuss issues related to the Sikh diaspora in Canada supporting the creation of Khalistan, a separate Sikh nation, by dividing India. The Punjab government fears that the diaspora is trying to destabilise Punjab, fanning emotions and propping up a dead cause in a bid to revive militancy in the state.

A section of the Canadian media reported Friday that Trudeau will not meet Amarinder for calling out members of Trudeau’s cabinet for their alleged connection with Sikh separatists.

The Punjab CM had last year refused to meet Canadian defence minister Harjit Sajjan during his visit to the state saying that apart from Sajjan, other members of Trudeau cabinet, including Amarjeet Sohi, sympathised with Khalistanis.

With Indian media raking up these issues in the run-up to Trudeau’s visit, both Sohi and Sajjan recently clarified their stance on Khalistan, saying they did not support the creation of a separate Sikh state. Sajjan and Sohi will be part of the Trudeau’s team visiting India as are other Sikh members of his cabinet.

Quoting an anonymous Canadian official, a Canadian news website added that a meeting between Trudeau and the Punjab CM is unlikely. The CMO sources said that even if the request for a one-to-one meeting is not cleared by the MEA, Amarinder Singh will be receiving Trudeau at the Amritsar airport as part of the protocol and accompany him to Golden Temple.

The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), which runs the Golden Temple, has planned a special event in Trudeau’s honour. SGPC chief Gobind Singh Longowal was recently quoted as saying that the Canadian PM had “proved his grit” by standing up for issues concerning the Sikh community in Canada.

Trudeau who is visiting India with his family — wife and three kids — is expected to also visit the Taj Mahal, the Akshardham Temple in Gujarat and Jama Masjid in Delhi. He will hold bilateral meetings with Indian government officials on the last day of his visit.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi too had raised the Khalistan issue with Trudeau on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last month when Indian officials were banned from entering gurdwaras in Canada.

Some local gurdwara committees decided they needed to “protect” their followers from “interference” of Indian government officials.

A fortnight later, a host of gurdwara bodies imposed a similar ban in the US and Europe.

Also read: As Justin Trudeau visits India, Sikh groups in Canada are demanding a separate nation.

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  1. Banning the entry of anyone in a Gurdwara is violation of the most basic tenet of Sikhism. The religious place of Sikhism was named ‘Gurdwara’ (Gur=teacher, dwara=entrance/door) which was meant to let everyone enter it – as against the traditional Hindu restrictions on certain castes entering its temples. It is a pity that in their animosity against Indian State, these adherents have negated their own teaching.

    • How many Sikhs from Schedule caste are running SGPC affairs? Answer: None. Sikh temples in Punjab don’t let SCs inside their temples. Go to any village and you will know the answer. Instead of pontificating on the alleged superiority of Sikhism, do some soul searching on why Sikhs lie and fake marriages just for the sake of a “PHOREN” visa.

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