Canadian defence minister Harjit Sajjan’s native village of Bambeli in Hoshiarpur district is gearing up to welcome its son of the soil amid the controversy triggered by Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh’s refusal to meet him over his being a “Khalistani sympathiser”. Sajjan is expected to arrive here for the first time after becoming defence minister but his father, Kundan Singh, refuses to confirm the visit.
The octogenarian, who has been an active member of radical groups World Sikh Organisation, is avoiding the media after Amarinder’s remarks on Sajjan’s perceived ideological affiliations. “I am busy, I cannot talk to you,” Kundan Singh said when contacted over the phone. The father-son duo has been at the receiving end of accusations of being Khalistan backers by Amarinder and Punjabi-Sikh liberals in Canada.
On prodding, he clarified that he did not want to respond to Amarinder’s statement. “I will not say anything on the issue. He (Amarinder) knows better what he has said, I will not comment on it,” he said.
He was non-committal on his son’s proposed visit to the village. “He is coming to Amritsar but I am not sure if he will come here,” he said when asked about Sajjan’s itinerary.
SGPC MEMBER PLANS TO HONOUR SAJJAN
Kundan Singh said that his son was coming to India after 16 years. He may not have confirmed the visit but local Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) member Surinder Singh Bhulewal Rathan said the Canadian minister will be honoured by the Sikh organisation. “I have to go abroad but my representatives and other leaders will be here to welcome the visiting dignitary,” Rathan said.
Another villager Vijay Bambeli said it was a matter of honour for the entire village to see their son reach a post of prestige. “We are excited that he is coming,” he said.
SAJJAN’S VISITED VILLAGE TWICE
Kundan Singh and his wife, Vidya Devi, visit the village at least once in two years.
Kundan Singh migrated to Canada when Sajjan was born. He took his family along when Sajjan was five years old. Sajjan has visited his village twice so far.
He said he learnt about his son’s proposed visit to the Golden Temple in Amritsar over a telephonic talk with him a few days ago. He reportedly told Sajjan to spare time to visit their native village. He is hopeful his son will do so.
Kundan Singh flies back to Canada after a week.