New Delhi: After slamming the Canadian government for its reported links with radical Sikh separatists, it was a rather mellow Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh who emerged from a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday, seemingly reassured by the visitor’s pledges to tackle anti-India elements.
Talking to reporters after half-hour-long discussions, Singh described Trudeau as a “very wonderful person" with the meeting making him “feel good."
While the conversation revolved around trade, cooperation in agriculture and the services sector, Singh said he had discussed the issue of Khalistan separatism with Trudeau. Later, Singh tweeted: “Really happy to receive categorical assurance from Canadian PM @JustinTrudeau 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."
Previously, the Punjab chief minister had refused to meet Canada’s defence minister Harjit Singh Sajjan in April, claiming he had links with supporters of the Khalistan movement—an allegation Sajjan denies.
A little more than 1% of Canada’s 40 million people are of Indian origin and a vast number of them trace their roots to Punjab. Many of them are traditional supporters of Trudeau’s Liberal Party.
At Wednesday’s meeting—which took place after Trudeau visited the Golden Temple in Amritsar—Singh was seen on TV greeting Sajjan as he joined Trudeau for talks.
Singh’s social media message mirrored what he told reporters—that Trudeau had promised to look into the thorny issue of Sikh separatists and that the visiting prime minister had conveyed to him that Canada believed in a united India.
Singh added that he had given him a list of suspected Khalistani sympathizers funneling money into Punjab in a bid to resurrect the movement. But the chief minister struck a conciliatory note as well, adding that those suspected of channelling money were not confined to Canada alone but were also in the US, Germany and other countries.
Earlier in the day, Trudeau was received by Union minister of state for housing and urban affairs Hardeep Singh Puri at Amritsar airport. Trudeau later drove down to the Golden Temple to offer prayers —a gesture laden with symbolism back home given the large Sikh immigrant population in Canada.