Actions speak louder than words. One has to just look at the official welcome meted out to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on his first State Visit to India, to know how true this is. Why is it that when PM Modiji extends a warm welcome to almost all world leaders, Justin Trudeau got this cold shoulder? The reasons are plenty…
Allowing the Khalistan Movement to survive and grow in Canada: At least 3 of Justin Trudeau’s cabinet ministers are supporters of the Khalistan Movement. In April 2017 a private member’s motion advanced by a Liberal MPP in the Ontario legislature labelled the 1984 violence against Sikhs as ‘genocide’. Canada’s official line, which Trudeau will deliver if asked during the trip, is that it supports a unified India, will not support any forms of extremism but will also not override the freedom of Indian Canadians to speak out in favour of a separate Sikh state if they wish. Simply put, if Canadian Sikhs want Khalistan, they’ll not object to it.
Canada should learn from Pakistan – Pakistan thought that they were smart in protecting the terrorists on their soil because the terrorists only harmed other nations. Today, Pakistan itself is feeling the heat of such a thinking. ‘Terrorism spares no one, no nation’.
Tit-fortat: Despite reports that Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh is to be Trudeau’s tour guide at the Golden Temple in Amritsar during his visit on the 21st of February, officials in the Canada Prime Minister’s Office say no meeting is planned. This despite Amarinder Singh requesting a meeting to discuss why the Sikh Separatist Movement should not be encouraged. So when Justin Trudeau visited the Taj Mahal, he was not welcomed by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. All protocol duties were left to District Magistrate Gaurav Dayal and Commissioner K Rammohan Rao.
Gurudwara Ban: Several Gurudwaras in Canada officially barred Indian officials from entering the premises. This ban set off a chain reaction with Gurudwaras in the U S, the U K and Australia, following suit accusing the Indian government of interference. This reference to Government interference was mischievous and completely unfounded and was presumably done to satiate Sikh separatists who want to fuel the demand for Khalistan.
Uncontrolled Freedom to Business Units hurting Indian Sentiments: In January 2017, Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, an active participant on Twitter, took exception to the sale on Amazon’s Canadian site of doormats bearing the Indian flag. In a series of missives, she demanded an ‘unconditional apology’, threatened to cancel the visas of company employees and not issue any new ones, and ordered the Indian High Commission in Ottawa to intervene. The offending furnishings were withdrawn. Months later, a BJP spokesperson objected to the presence on the same site of an Indian flag wall sticker that excluded disputed areas of Kashmir.
Inexcusable barring of Indian citizens from entering Canada quoting ‘Human Rights Violation’: Last May, an Indian citizen was barred from entering Canada, though he had a valid visa. According to a letter issued to the individual, at Vancouver Airport, the denial was a result of his service as an officer in India’s central police force, which the document said had “committed widespread and systematic human rights abuses”. Even in 2010, several Indian officers reported being denied visas on the grounds of their service in Police and Armed Forces.
Support of Separatists to AAP & Arvind Kejriwal: It is no secret that Canadian Separatists poured resources into AAP during the campaign of the Punjab Elections. They also volunteered in door-to-door campaigning, making flyers and canvassing on the phone. In fact, Congress through its CM candidate Amarinder Singh had complained then that AAP supporters in Canada had prevented his people from even putting up posters in Canada to woo the NRIs there.
Last year too, the Government of India tried very subtly to tell the Canadians about their displeasure. On November 8, 2017, a department within India’s Finance Ministry put out a notification putting a 50 percent tariff on the import into India of yellow peas, commonly used as a cheap substitute in gram flour. During the 2016–2017 cycle, Canada exported 2.02 million tonnes of yellow peas to India, the world’s largest market for such crops. This sudden tariff resulted in Canada selling its stocks en route, at a discount to China and Pakistan.
While it remains to be seen which trade agreements are signed during Justin Trudeau’s 7-day-visit to India, one hopes that at least now the Canadian PM understands how serious this Government of Bharat is about combating terrorism and separatist activities.