Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh will meet Canadian PM Justin Trudeau on Wednesday, 21 February.
Singh tweeted he was hopeful that his meeting with Trudeau in Amritsar would strengthen the ties between the India and Canada.
Speculation Over Singh-Trudeau Meeting
The meeting comes after days of speculation that the two leaders would not hold a meeting in the light of the Punjab CM’s alleged comments about a Trudeau cabinet member.
The Canadian Press reported on 18 February that the Trudeau government was seeking a meeting with Singh through behind-the-scenes efforts while the Trudeau family was touring the Taj Mahal. As per the report, Canada’s Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan – with whom Singh had sparred publicly for being a ‘Khalistani sympathiser’ – urged Trudeau to set up a meeting with the three of them.
Canadian media outlet CBC News, reported on 15 February that the meeting was not scheduled. "We have nothing planned with him (Amarinder Singh) at this time," a Canadian official told CBC News. This came a day after PTI reported that Capt Amarinder Singh would be the Canadian first family’s guide for their tour of Amritsar on 21 February.
The development is believed to be linked to Amarinder Singh having allegedly called Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan a ‘Khalistani sympathiser’ during the latter's visit to India in April 2017 and his refusal to meet with him. The long-running animosity has been on a slow burn, vis a vis Canadian Sikh separatists and the Punjab CM.
In 2016, for example, Singh had to cancel a planned visit to Canada for fear of being taken to court by Canadian organisation Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) appearing for a Canadian resident claiming to have been tortured in Singh’s tenure as CM.
Late last year, more than a dozen Canadian gurudwaras had banned Indian officials from setting foot on the basis that they “spread anti-Sikh propaganda”, setting off a chain reaction in which a number of UK and US gurudwaras instituted similar bans.
Canada has repeatedly stated that it does not support any type of Sikh extremism, and both Sajjan and Canadian Minister for Infrastructure Amarjeet Sohi – two of four Sikh members in Trudeau's Cabinet – have denied Singh’s allegations of them being Khalistani sympathisers, with Sajjan calling the accusation “offensive” and “ridiculous”.
(With inputs from ANI, PTI, and CBC News)
(This story has been updated to include details of the meeting.)
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