Justin Trudeau calls Sabarmati Ashram 'beautiful place of peace, humility and truth'

21 February, 2018, 07:20 | Author: Patty Aguilar
  • Canadian PM Justin Trudeau visits Taj Mahal with his family

A motion in the Ontario legislature previous year to label anti-Sikh riots at the Golden Temple in 1984 as a genocide, and recent decisions by more than a dozen Canadian gurdwaras to ban entry to Indian diplomats in their official government capacity, have added fuel to India's concerns about a growing Khalistani effort coming out of Canada.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says it's "nice to come full circle" having his family accompany him on the Canadian government's trip to India.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, their sons Hadrien and Xavier, and daughter Ella-Grace, second right, prepare to pose in front of Taj Mahal in Agra, India, on Sunday. But sections of the Canadian media have warned that Trudeau can ignore the problem of Sikh radicalism at his own peril.

"In addition, he said, it was equally surprising that six cabinet ministers accompanying Trudeau had scant official engagements, except for foreign minister Chrystia Freeland, who will confer with external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj ahead of the meeting between the prime ministers in New Delhi on February 23", the story continues.

Trudeau is scheduled to later interact with business students at the Indian Instititute of Management in the city.

"There are tremendous connections between Canada and India, whether it is natural resources or tech sector like IT, creativity, pharmaceutical.there are huge compatibilities and complementarities between our nations". Singh had refused to meet Canada's Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan previous year and called him a Khalistan sympathizer, and stating that his government would not meet anyone who supports the Khalistan cause.

The reason for the lukewarm welcome according to Dehejia could be that members of the Canadian government are associated with the Sikh independence movement, the Khalistan movement, which seeks to create a separate independent Sikh homeland in the Sikh-dominated northern state of Punjab. Indian officials have been at pains to clarify this wasn't in any way a snub for the soft stand taken by Trudeau's Liberal Party of Canada towards Sikh radicals espousing the cause of Khalistan. But Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has broken protocols to receive leaders from other countries in the past, is yet to meet the Canadian prime minister.

The Canadian Prime Minister who landed in New Delhi on Saturday is also programmed to visit Golden Temple Amritsar, Ahmedabad, and Mumbai. In an email response to Hindustan Times, its federal director, Aaron Wudrick, said: "While it is understood that a prime minister will have to travel frequently, the proportion of time being spent actually meeting foreign counterparts on this trip does not suggest a good use of public money". Earlier this month, Singh told Outlook India magazine that "there seems to be evidence that there are Khalistani sympathizers in Trudeau's cabinet".

The issue is a cloud hanging over Trudeau's first state visit to India.

At the management institute, the Prime Minister underlined the potential of bilateral trade between India and Canada to grow from $8 billion in goods and $2 billion in services now.

If reports are to be believed then India and Canada will focus on defence and counter-terrorism cooperation. With 1.3 million Indian Canadians, the community is fast growing and influential both politically and economically in Canada; a successful trip would help Trudeau both at home and overseas.


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