Punjab chief minister wants Canada to rein in ‘radical’ Sikhs

Rameshwer Singh Sangha and Amarinder Singh.
Photo: Amarinder Singh’s Facebook

New Delhi (PTI): Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on July 21 stressed the need for Canada to rein in “radical” Sikh elements and crack down on such forces trying to use Canadian soil to spread strife and divisiveness in India.

He raised the issue with Jalandhar-born Canadian MP Rameshwar Singh Sangha, who called on him here.

Amarinder said while such elements, including Khalistan supporters, could not have any impact on the Canadian political environment, they could influence people in India and vitiate the atmosphere here.

“Unfortunately, these elements were successful in spreading their divisive messages in India through the use of social media,” he said, calling on the Canadian government to crack down on these forces and ensure they do not have a free run on social media and other public platforms.

The chief minister said his government was trying to revive Punjab’s economy by wooing industry and investment to the state but such efforts can get derailed by the nefarious designs of radical elements operating from outside India.

“These handful of people, with their vicious propaganda, were negating the efforts of all the NRIs [Non-Resident Indians] including Punjabis, who are contributing immensely to the development and progress of India and Canada,” he said.

The remarks come following Amarinder’s allegation that Canada’s Indian-origin Defence Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan was supporting radical Sikh elements and Khalistanis in Canada. He even refused to meet Sajjan during his visit to India in April.

Some radical Sikh groups earlier prevented Amarinder from visiting Canada ahead of the Punjab Assembly election as they secured a court warrant against him over alleged atrocities committed during militancy in the state in the 1980s.

Amarinder and Sangha also discussed various issues of concern for NRIs.

Pointing to the increasing number of cases of harassment of NRIs, especially over property-related matters, in the past several years, Sangha, who represents the Brampton Centre electoral district in Canada, urged the chief minister to initiate steps to protect the interests of the Indian community settled abroad.

Amarinder promised all support to safeguard the interests of NRIs, an official spokesperson said after the meeting.

The chief minister told the MP that he had already taken up with the chief justice a proposal to set up NRI courts, which his government now planned to establish as part of the ex-servicemen courts since there were not enough NRI cases to merit separate courts.

Sangha, who is Chairman of the Canada-India Parliamentary Friendship Group, said the contribution of NRIs to the development of Canada, and in fact all countries in which they are settled, has been commended by their governments.

The chief minister agreed and lauded the NRIs for nurturing and promoting India’s image around the world. The hard work, dedication and commitment of NRIs was highly praiseworthy, he said.