Jadid Khabar
Jadid Khabar

Khalistan factor casts a shadow over Trudeau visit


Khalistan, the issue that kept India-Canada ties on ice through three decades from 1980, has reappeared as an issue more recently, taking away much of the warmth that was expected during Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s ongoing visit to India.

Former diplomats say the seeds of the current tensions were sowed when Mr. Trudeau came to power in 2015. He received widespread support from some of the most extreme Khalistani political groups, and has repeatedly failed to take into account the sensitivities in India over the past where Sikh terror groups received support from elements in Canada.

A major breaking point came last April when Mr.Trudeau attended a “khalsa day” parade organised by one of the more radical gurdwaras in Toronto. At the time, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) made it clear that India’s protest had been taken up with the Canadian government.

Among other issues was the felicitation at the parade of a politician responsible for a resolution in the Ontario assembly that accused India of “genocide” during the 1984 Anti-Sikh riots, a vote that India had also protested strongly. In addition, floats at the parade depicted Sikh militant leaders Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, Amreek Singh and former General Shahbeg Singh, who were killed in the siege of the Golden Temple and Operation Bluestar in June 1984, as heroes. During his tenure, former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper had not attended the rally, easing the path for visits by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2012 and Prime Minister Modi to Canada in 2015.

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