Canada says ‘closely monitoring’ situation in Punjab

Mar 24, 2023 11:20 AM IST

Ottawa is “monitoring” the situation in Punjab closely”, following developments related to the pursuit of Waris Punjab De leader Amritpal Singh and the arrest of several of his associates

Ottawa is “monitoring” the situation in Punjab closely”, following developments related to the pursuit of Waris Punjab De leader Amritpal Singh and the arrest of several of his associates.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau(AP)
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau(AP)

Read here: Amritpal trained men at firing range in his village

The first formal statement from the Government on this matter came in the form of a reply from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the House of Commons of Wednesday.

“We are looking forward to a swift return to a more stable situation,” Trudeau said.

He was responding to a question from New Democratic Party or NDP leader Jagmeet Singh.

However, Trudeau did not address other issues raised by Singh. He said the NDP, which is supporting the minority Liberal Party Government, demanded that Canada “boycott the G20 events in Chandigarh and Kashmir”, and “ban BJP officials from entering Canada who have uttered death threats against Canadians.”

A similarly careful statement was also made by Canada’s minister of foreign affairs Mélanie Joly on Thursday while answering a question from Indo-Canadian MP Iqwinder S Gaheer in the House. “We are aware of the evolving situation in Punjab and we are following it very closely. We look forward to a return to a more stable situation,” she said, adding, “And you can always count on the Government of Canada to make sure that we will continue to address the concerns of many members of the community.”

She expressed appreciation for the MP raising his concerns, which the Minister said was shared by many members of the House.

On March 18, in a series of tweets, Singh said he was “deeply concerned by reports that India has suspended civil liberties and imposed an Internet blackout throughout the state of Punjab.”

He made similar comments in the House of Wednesday as a preface to his question, as he alleged that the “Indian government has suspended cellphone service, Internet service and social media accounts, on top of blocking journalists from covering what is happening while a heavy military presence rolls into Punjab.”

“Why has the Prime Minister remained silent on this?” he asked.

His previous tweets alluded to “draconian measures” in the context of what he described as the “1984 Sikh Genocide”.

Read here: Amritpal Singh tried to form terror outfit with ex-Armymen; 'blackmailed' women. Top points

His comments were followed by expressions of concern on social media by several Canadian leader including at least four MPs from the Liberal Party and two Conservatives.

According to reports, Singh’s Twitter handle has bene withheld in India on the request of authorities, along with those of other Canadians who had been vocal on the matter.

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    Anirudh Bhattacharya is a Toronto-based commentator on North American issues, and an author. He has also worked as a journalist in New Delhi and New York spanning print, television and digital media. He tweets as @anirudhb.

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