A day after Canada disallowed his public events in the country, former Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh said that felt “like a gag order that has left a very bad taste” in a letter sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
In the letter, which local Congress leaders are planning to hand deliver to Ottawa, Singh added, “Needless to say, it has come as a disappointment that someone representing the largest democracy in the world has been refused to reach out to, and interact with, his fellow Punjabis living in a respected democracy like Canada.”
Rebutting the Global Affairs Canada’s instructions, he said he had “no intention” of conducting a political campaign in Canada or setting up a political party in the country.
“It is surprising and ironical that the refusal to allow me public interactions has come barely after a few weeks of your personally expressing regrets over the Komagata Maru tragedy,” he wrote.
While Singh is a sitting Lok Sabha MP, he clarified he held no position in government.
“Yes, I had planned to visit Canada to interact with my fellow Punjabis at personal level to learn about their experiences and seek their opinions. They, being the citizens of Canada, do not have any voting rights in India. Hence, there is no point in carrying out election campaign amongst them and that too when there are no elections scheduled in Punjab right now or in immediate future,” the letter said.
Singh mentioned he had travelled to Canada while he was chief minister of Punjab in 2005 and addressed gatherings in Toronto and Vancouver that were also attended by premiers (the equivalent of a chief minister). He also pointed to instances of Indian leaders addressing the community in Canada in recent months, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“But, the way your government has reacted, it simply amounts to gagging someone and has left a suffocating bad taste, unheard of in any democracy, that I cannot talk to the people I feel like talking to, after travelling thousands of miles and crossing over the seven seas,” he said in the strongly worded letter that added fundamental freedoms enshrined in the Canadian Constitution had been undermined.