Punjab leaders flag ‘panic-like situation’; Badal calls on Shah
Badal says the current situation between India and Canada has affected the people of Indian origin living in Canada
New Delhi: As the diplomatic row between India and Canada escalated rapidly, parliamentarians from Punjab cutting across parties appealed to the government to find solutions, flagging concerns for Indians that live in Canada. A large proportion of those that migrate to the North American country, both for study and work, are from the state.
Shiromani Akali Dal(SAD) president and Lok Sabha member of parliament (MP) Sukhbir Singh Badal met Union home minister Amit Shah on Thursday, and said that he had been flooded by panicked phone calls from Punjabis in Canada that had sought the SAD’s intervention. Emerging after the meeting he said, “The current situation between India and Canada has affected the people of Indian origin living in Canada...A panic-like situation is developing among the people. The government of India should find a solution soon. I have requested this to Home Minister Amit Shah.”
Congress MP Ravneet Singh Bittu also wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asking him to “personally intervene” to ensure the well-being and security of Indian students that live in Canada. Data from the Canadian government department Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) shows that of the roughly 551,000 new international students that entered the country in 2022, the largest cohort were Indians, with 226450 students. As many as 319000 Indian students already lived in Canada as on December 31,2022, the IRCC said.
In a letter dated September 20, Bittu said that the diplomatic row could create “social discomfort” for Indian students, potentially affecting their “overall well-being and sense of security in Canada.” “I shall be extremely grateful if you could personally intervene in the matter and ensure the well-being and sense of security of the students and protect the interests of the large number of Indian students studying in Canada by insulating them from any possible fallout of the strained diplomatic relations with Canada and also help towards restoration of mutual trust and goodwill among the two countries,” Bittu said.
The Congress MP however lashed out at Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and said that “99.5%” of the Indians that live in Canada do not approve of the “activities of the pro-Khalistani elements who run drug cartels and give funds to Trudeau’s party.” “But our concern lies with thousands of Indians including people from Punjab who have their families back in the state or elsewhere and want to live peacefully,” said Bittu.
On Tuesday, former Punjab chief minister and BJP leader Captain Amarinder Singh dismissed the claims made by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that there was an Indian hand in the murder of Khalistani activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar outside a Surrey Gurdwara in June this year.
“It was highly irresponsible for the Prime Minister of a country to make a statement without any evidence only because he was playing to the vote bank gallery. It was an irrefutable fact that the Trudeau administration in Canada had given a free hand to anti-India forces in that country,” former Punjab CM said.