Sikh separatist row casts shadow on Trudeau's India visit
February 21 2018 12:56 PM
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau along with his wife Sophie Gregoire and their children Ella-Grace and Xavier pay respects at the Golden Temple in Amritsar on Wednesday.

DPA/New Delhi

Allegations that the Canadian government backs Sikh separatists cast a shadow as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday toured India's Sikh-dominated state of Punjab.
Trudeau, along with his wife Sophie Gregoire and three children, paid homage at Sikhism's holiest shrine, the Golden Temple in Amritsar city.
He later held talks with Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, who has publicly accused members of the Canadian cabinet of having links to the Sikh separatist movement.
The meeting came amid a row in which Singh refused to meet ministers from the Trudeau cabinet - two key Sikh members, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and Infrastructure minister Amarjeet Sohi - blaming them for supporting the Khalistan movement, which advocates an
independent Sikh state within the Punjab region.
Spokesman Raveen Thukral said Singh agreed to meet Canadian ministers after Sajjan and Sohi put an end to the "controversy."
"Mr Sajjan and Mr Sohi have distanced themselves from the Khalistan movement in very categorical words. There was a courtesy call by six ministers after the one-to-one meeting with Prime Minister Trudeau," he said.
Canada has a large population of Sikhs. There are four Sikh ministers in the Trudeau cabinet.
New Delhi has been concerned about Canada allegedly being soft on pro-Khalistan activists on its soil. The issue is likely to come up in Trudeau's main talks with Premier Narendra Modi on Friday.
Trudeau has tried to allay India's concerns on the week-long tour as he reiterated Canada's commitment for a "united India" and said his government was serious about cracking down on extremism.

Last updated: February 21 2018 01:20 PM

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