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Khalistan continues to be a sore spot in the partnership between India and Canada

In India-Canada friendship, Khalistan remains the sore point

In a recent media interview, the Canadian High Commissioner to India Cameron MacKay has claimed that the political relationship between New Delhi and Ottawa today is very strong. The reality in the matter is, however, far different.

Observers say that MacKay is being too diplomatic to be substantial on the subject. For political relationship between any two nations to be robust, their leaders must appreciate each other country’s unity and territorial integrity. This is missing in the Canadian political leadership’s approach towards India. Current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau government has had little respect for India’s unity and territorial integrity. In his address to the students of Indian Institute of Ahmedabad during his India visit in February 2018, Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau said, “Heterogeneous society is the new reality and the biggest challenge is to understand how differences can become a source of strength –something that India and Canada have done fairly well and can do better.

However, since Trudeau’s Liberal Party came to power in 2015, anti-India elements have been very active in Canada and offending the heterogeneity that has prevailed in India since time immemorial. In Canada, Khalistani elements — fundamentalist groups, such as the Babbar Khalsa International, the International Sikh Youth Federation, and the Sikhs for Justice, which all seek secession of Punjab from secular India, have increasingly been engaged in anti-India activities. Presently, some Canada-based radicals and gangsters are said to directing secessionist activities in India from there. The observers say Prime Minister Narendra Modi has raised Khalistani activities in Canada to his counterpart Trudeau. During a joint press conference with Trudeau in New Delhi in 2018, Prime Minister Modi expressed India’s displeasure over Ottawa’s attitude to dealing with the Khalistan sympathisers. He categorically stated that any attempt to undermine India’s sovereignty and unity would not be tolerated. But so far, it seems to have fallen on deaf ears in Ottawa. The observers suggest that if Prime Minister Trudeau genuinely seeks to have better political relations with India, he must introspect as the leader of his Liberal Party and take such measures as would stop it from encouraging anti-India elements to continue their activities in Canada.

Regrettably, some of his party politicians are believed to have been very close to Khalistani activists and sympathisers in Canada. It is documented that in 2010, Liberal MPs Sukh Dhaliwal and Andrew Kania introduced a petition in the House of Commons asking Ottawa to consider the 1984 Sikh riots in India as an act of genocide. In 2017, Harinder Malhi of the Liberal Party moved a private motion in the Ontario assembly, describing the 1984 riots as genocide. In 2018, several Canadian politicians happened to be present at the Khalsa Day Parade. In 2017, Prime Minister Trudeau himself attended this event. Prime Minister Trudeau would also need to rein in elements like Canada’s New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Jagmeet Singh, on whom he counts to get his bills passed in parliament. Singh is known to be a supporter of the Khalistani cause.

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