Amritsar: Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh on Wednesday handed Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a list of nine Canada-based operatives allegedly involved in promoting radicalism as the ‘Khalistan’ issue featured prominently in the talks between the two leaders here.
Trudeau assured his country did not support separatism in India or elsewhere as he pitched for greater cooperation, an official said.
Both leaders held a 40-minute long meeting at a hotel here after Trudeau paid obeisance at the Golden Temple and visited the Partition Museum.
Chief minister Singh submitted a list of nine Canada-based operatives alleged to be involved in target-killings and other hate crimes in Punjab, including financing and supplying of weapons for terrorist activities, an official said.
Amarinder Singh urged Trudeau to initiate stern action against such elements. The Canadian premier assured the Punjab chief minister that his country did not support “any separatist movement in India or elsewhere,” said Raveen Thukral, the chief minister’s media advisor.
The “categorical assurance” from Trudeau came after Amarinder Singh sought the Canadian prime minister’s cooperation in cracking down on fringe elements, constituting a miniscule percentage of Canadian population, he added.
Citing the separatist movement in Quebec, Trudeau said he had dealt with such threats all his life and was fully aware of the dangers of violence, Thukral said.
“Really happy to receive categorical assurance from Canadian PM @JustinTrudeau that his country does not support any separatist movement. His words are a big relief to all of us here in India and we look forward to his government’s support in tackling fringe separatist elements,” Singh tweeted after the meeting.
The Punjab chief minister gave Trudeau a list of nine Category ‘A’ Canada-based operatives alleged to be involved in hate crimes, terrorist activities and trying to radicalize youth and children here, Thukral said.
Significantly, Canadian defence minister Harjit Sajjan and Punjab local government minister Navjot Singh Sidhu were also present at the meeting. Amarinder Singh shook hands with Sajjan during the talks.
Last year, Amarinder Singh had refused to meet the Sajjan when he visited Punjab accusing him of being a “Khalistani sympathiser”.
There was speculation even on whether a meeting between Amarinder Singh and Trudeau would take place, but the Punjab chief minister cleared the air days before the Canadian premier’s arrival here.
The Punjab police believes that the conspirators and financiers in the targeted killing cases in the state were operating from foreign soil including Canada, UK and Italy.
Freedom of speech was enshrined in the Indian Constitution but separatists and those propagating violence had lost any such right as they were rejected by the people of Punjab, Singh said in the meeting.
He stressed that people contesting elections on the plank of a separate Sikh state ended up losing their security deposits, said Thukral.
Trudeau assured Amarinder Singh of addressing the concerns raised, saying he looked forward to closer ties with India, particularly Punjab, which he was happy to see progressing well.
Amarinder Singh called for cooperation between India and Canada on the issues of terrorism, crime and drugs.
Responding to concerns raised in some quarters on reports of human rights violations, the chief minister said aberrations were always dealt with strictly.
During the meeting, the chief minister pointed out to the scope of scaling up the trade and commerce relations urging Trudeau to push Canadian investment in Punjab.
The two leaders agreed to collaborate through joint projects. Amarinder Singh identified higher education, scientific research, technology, innovation and skill development as some of the areas.
With a large Punjabi diaspora settled in Canada, and some even finding place in Trudeau’s cabinet, relations between India and Canada continue to get stronger, he added.
Amarinder Singh, said 64,000 Canadian and 74,000 Indian soldiers who fought in the 1st World War lay buried together in 134 cemeteries.
The chief minister presented to the Canadian premier his own book Rs.Honour and Fidelity - World War I’ and Rs.History of Sikhs’ by Khushwant Singh.
He also presented a Phulkari dupatta and a shawl, to Trudeau’s wife, Sophie Trudeau, and several gifts to the couple’s three children. Trudeau described his trip to India as extremely enjoyable.