Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh’s statement against Canadian defence minister Harjit Singh Sajjan terming him a “Khalistani sympathiser” has triggered a diplomatic row with the Canadian high commission on Thursday terming it “disappointing and inaccurate”.
Reacting to the remarks, the Canadian high commission here said Canada greatly values its relationship with the people and the government of Punjab, and look forward to further advancing it. “We regret that the CM of Punjab is unavailable to meet with Canada’s minister of defence. The CM is welcome to visit Canada,” the high commission added.
However, Amarinder rejected Canada’s defence and said he stood by his principled stand of not associating himself with any “Khalistani sympathiser”. Amarinder reiterated that the Canadian defence minister and several other top leaders in Canada were sympathising with those indulging in anti-India activities, notwithstanding Canada’s claims to the contrary, said a press note issued by his office.
He named other Canadian political leaders, including Navdeep Bains, Amarjit Sohi, Sukh Dhaliwal, Darshan Kang, Raj Grewal, Harinder Malhi, Roby Sahota, Jagmeet Singh and Randeep Sari, as “well known for their leanings towards the Khalistani movement”.
Amarinder had on Wednesday alleged that Sajjan, like his father, is a “Khalistani sympathiser” and he would not meet him during his scheduled visit to India from April 17 as he (Sajjan) and four other Sikh ministers in the Justin Trudeau cabinet scuttled his visit to Canada before Punjab assembly polls.
The CM said while Sajjan was welcome to attend conferences and meets, and even to visit the Golden Temple in Amritsar, he would personally not entertain the Canadian minister. The state government would provide full security to the minister and also ensure that he gets due treatment as per protocol, said Amarinder.
Amarinder also lashed out at the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Dal Khalsa for their criticism of his refusal to meet Sajjan.
In Canadian federal elections of 2015, Jutin Trudeau and his liberal party faced criticism from a section of Punjabi diaspora in Vancouver over World Sikh organisation (WSO), said to be a radical organisation, supporting Punjabi-Sikh candidates in the polls, including Sajjan.