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Canada's PM Trudeau denies support for Sikh separatists

Canada's PM Trudeau denies support for Sikh separatists

Chandigarh/Amritsar: Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave a "categorical assurance" to Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh at their Amritsar meeting on Wednesday that his country did not support any separatist movement in India or elsewhere. Amarinder Singh later said that he raised the issue of "Khalistan" and the support certain elements in Canada were giving to it to cause disturbance in Punjab.

After paying obeisance at the "Harmandir Sahib", popularly known as the Golden Temple, Trudeau will meet Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh for a one-on-one meeting at a local hotel.

In his "Passage to India" style tour, Trudeau had landed in Amritsar after covering Agra, Ahmedabad, and Mumbai, savouring the best of desi culture.

Photographs of Trudeau standing before the Golden Temple, one of the most revered spiritual sites of Sikhism, does nothing to quell the separatist Sikh powerbrokers within Canada. Trudeau remains mired in a dispute with Indian politicians over the alleged presence of Sikh separatists in his cabinet, something Trudeau denied again Wednesday.

Former Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi sent the military to the Golden Temple to flush out separatists at the height of the revolt in 1984.

At that time some 2,500 Sikhs were killed over a three-day period by Hindu mobs, mostly in New Delhi, in what was perceived to be state-sponsored genocide, for which many senior leaders have since apologised.

There was the Taj Mahal and the Golden Temple, for example, all recognizable backdrops for campaign brochures when the writ is dropped in 2019, and Canada's 1.5 million voters of Indian origins go to the polls to decide where to park their X.

India and Canada have been engaged in a running diplomatic and political battle over these radical Sikhs since the 1980s, with Delhi accusing successive Canadian administrations, including Mr Trudeau's, of tacitly backing them.

Trudeau was also unlucky not to receive Modi's hug, which has become a point of attention in the media coverage after he infamously tightly embraced many other visiting global leaders.

Over the almost four years Mr Modi has been in office he has earned a reputation for bear-hugging world leaders and personally escorting some of them to his western home state of Gujarat, which Mr Trudeau visited on Monday.

Mr. Trudeau needs to acknowledge India's concerns about pro-Khalistani elements in Canada in order to take bilateral relations forward and build on the tremendous potential that exists in so many varied fields. Mr Modi did not accompany him.

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