Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau Gets Cold-Shouldered By India For Backing Khalistanis Back Home

Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau Gets Cold-Shouldered By India For Backing Khalistanis Back Home Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with members of the Sikh Caucus. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Adrian Wyld)

When he arrived in India earlier today, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not get a grand welcome in New Delhi. He was received by Minister of State for Agriculture Gajendra Singh and Indian Ambassador to Canada Vikas Swarup.

In Agra, where he visited the Taj Mahal, Trudeau was not welcomed by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. All protocol duties, the Times of India reported, were left to district magistrate Gaurav Dayal and commissioner K Rammohan Rao.

According to some reports, New Delhi gave Trudeau a cold shoulder because he has been pandering to pro-Khalistan elements in Canada.

Support for Khalistan has been on the rise in Canada with extremists organising multiple events across the country to rally support for the movement in the past few years. Numerous pro-Khalistan groups in Canada are planning to hold what they call the ‘Punjab Independence Referendum' in the year 2020.

This issue has always figured prominently in Indo-Canada talks. In July 2016, India had raised the issue with Canada after Trudeau appeared in a Nagar Kirtan event in Toronto that featured Khalistani flags and posters of extremist leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. On 30 April 2016, he had addressed a parade on ‘Khalsa Day’ which included events glorifying Sikh militant leaders.

Liberal Party government headed by Trudeau is considered as one that has often pandered to separatist elements in Canada.

Harinder Kaur Malhi, a legislator from Trudeau’s party, had moved a resolution against India to recognise the anti-Sikh riots of November 1984 as a genocide. The resolution was passed by the Ontario Assembly on 6 April last year. India had condemned the move, calling it a “misguided motion based on a limited understanding of India, its constitution, society, ethos and judicial process”.

At least three members of Trudeau’s cabinet - Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Navdeep Bains and Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Amarjeet Sohi - have links with the separatist movement. The issue of support for Khalistani groups in Canada was also raised during Sajjan’s visit to India last year.

During his visit, Trudeau is unlikely to meet Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh. Singh has accused members of Trudeau’s cabinet of being sympathetic towards the demand for a separate Sikh nation.