Canada’s NDP leader Jagmeet Singh says he won’t attend rallies promoting violence | world news | Hindustan Times
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Canada’s NDP leader Jagmeet Singh says he won’t attend rallies promoting violence

The latest statement comes amidst a storm over videos of Jagmeet Singh speaking at a pair of events advocating Khalistan.

world Updated: Mar 26, 2018 00:07 IST
Anirudh Bhattacharyya
Anirudh Bhattacharyya
Hindustan Times, Toronto
New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh speaks to media Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, on February 27, 2018.
New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh speaks to media Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, on February 27, 2018. (Reuters)

It was another day and another position taken by Jagmeet Singh, the charismatic young leader of Canada’s New Democratic Party (NDP). In the midst of a storm over videos of him speaking at a pair of events advocating Khalistan, Singh has told reporters in Ottawa he will not attend rallies that promote violence.

But he reiterated his position that he would “unequivocally” defend the right of people to seek self-governance. He said, “I support the right to talk about self-determination, whether it’s in Scotland, whether it’s in Catalonia, whether it’s in India. I support that right, unequivocally.”

Following the NDP’s caucus meeting in the Canadian capital, Singh was quoted as saying that “if an event promotes violence, I do not accept that. I do not accept violence. Political violence is not something that is acceptable.”

However, he couched it with the proviso that he would shun such rallies if he knew “ahead of time” that someone at the event would be “on stage advocating political violence”.

This latest statement came after pressure mounted on Singh, 39, from within the group of MPs of his party who weren’t satisfied with his previous response that he would continue to attend such rallies.

According to multiple Canadian media reports, the MPs wanted him a clarify that position further and not be seen as associating with those advocating violence, such as the pro-Khalistan elements at the events in San Francisco and London, whose videos had landed Singh in the midst of controversy.

But he still has no problem with those pursuing a separatist agenda as long as they do so peacefully, as he told reporters: “I absolutely draw a distinction between political violence and someone advocating for independence or self-determination."

This is the latest set of remarks from Singh, who has shifted position several times in recent days since he faced criticism over his presence at events that he described as related to “genocide and human rights”, though that wasn’t what others who spoke at the San Francisco rally or the London panel restricted themselves to.

Singh made the latest statements with his party MPs lined up behind him, watching and listening to his responses to questions from the media, underscoring the rising discomfort within the NDP over Singh’s stand on separatism.