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Khalistan figures in Trudeau-Amarinder talks, Punjab CM hands over list of 9 Canada-based radicals

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau assures Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh that his country does not support “any separatist movement in India or elsewhere”.

india Updated: Feb 21, 2018 23:42 IST
Surjit Singh and Anil Sharma
Surjit Singh and Anil Sharma
Hindustan Times, Amritsar
Amarinder Singh Justin Trudeau,Amarinder-Trudeau meeting,Trudeau meets Amarinder Singh
Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau with Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh at a hotel in Amritsar on Wednesday. (HT Photo)

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday assured Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh that his country does not support any separatist movement in India or elsewhere.

Trudeau gave the ‘assurance’ during his 40-minute meeting with Amarinder at a hotel here during which the latter handed over a list of nine Canada-based operatives alleged to be involved in hate crimes in Punjab by financing and supplying weapons for terrorist activities and also engaged in trying to radicalise youth and children. The CM urged him to take action against such elements.

“Really happy to receive categorical assurance from Canadian PM@Justin Trudeau that his country does not support any separatist movement. His words are a big relief to all of us here in India and we look forward to his government’s support in tackling fringe separatist elements,” Amarinder tweeted after the meeting. The issue figured in talks between the two leaders in presence of Canadian defence minister Harjit Singh Sajjan whom Amarinder had refused to meet in April 2017 alleging that he was a ‘Khalistani sympathiser’.

The Khalistan issue had led to a standoff between Capt and the ruling establishment in Canada. This time too, there was intense speculation about whether the chief minister would meet Sajjan or not. In the morning, Raveen Thukral, media adviser to chief minister, tweeted that Amarinder would interact with the six Canadian minsters (including Sajjan) on request from the Government of Canada.

Trudeau and his ministers came to the meeting after paying obeisance at the Golden Temple and visiting the Partition Museum. After receiving the visiting Prime Minister, Amarinder shook hands with Sajjan during the discussion and the two also exchanged smiles. Trudeau is the second Canadian PM to visit the city after Stephen Harper who visited the Golden Temple in 2009.

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau and defence minister Harjit Sajjan with Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh in Amritsar on Wednesday. ( ANI Twitter )

The Trudeau-Amarinder meeting is being seen as a step towards breaking the ice.

“Citing the separatist movement in Quebec, Trudeau said he had dealt with such threats all his life and was fully aware of the dangers of violence, which he had always pushed back with all his might,” Thukral said. During the meeting, Amarinder called for cooperation between India and Canada on the issues of terrorism, crime and drugs, while seeking greater sharing of relevant information, in the interest of national and international security. “Responding to concerns raised in some quarters on reports of human rights violations, the chief minister said any aberrations were always dealt with strictly, with even policemen being sent to jail by the courts in such cases. He reiterated his government’s firm commitment to the protection of human rights of all individuals”, Thukral disclosed.

The two leaders agreed on the importance of strengthening cooperation between their countries across various areas of bilateral relations, with the CM expressing Punjab’s keenness to engage with Canada in several vital domains related to economic cooperation. The two leaders agreed to collaborate through joint projects aimed at facilitating progress of both, Canada and India.

Amarinder identified higher education, scientific research and technology, innovation and start-ups as some of the areas in which Canada could contribute to the development of Punjab, whose people continue to play an important role in the progress of that country. Captain Amarinder presented gifts to Trudeau’s three children. The chief minister’s chief principal secretary Suresh Kumar and chief secretary Karan Avatar Singh were also present in the meeting.

Earlier, Trudeau landed at Sri Guru Ram Dass Ji International Airport in Amritsar at around 11:00 am. He was received and welcomed by Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri and Punjab’s local government minister Navjot Singh Sidhu.

First Published: Feb 21, 2018 18:20 IST