MAMOSA Report — Canada’s defense minister, Harjit Sajjan, flew to his native Punjab on a mission to strengthen Canada’s relations with India but no one official was there to greet him at the airport, reported the Foreign Policy magazine on its website.
Ahead of Sajjan’s arrival, Punjab’s chief minister falsely called Sajjan a Khalistani, a group of Sikh separatists with alleged terrorism links. “I won’t meet him. There are five ministers who are Khalistanis and I am not interested in meeting any Khalistanis,” Punjab’s top elected official, Amarinder Singh, said.
Khalistanis are Sikhs who want to establish their own independent homeland within India’s borders but remains a peripheral outfit.
The comment was received poorly by Sikhs in both Canada and India. Some suspected Singh was trying to distract from Punjab’s economic woes. Others pointed out that Indian Defense Minister Arun Jaitley, who is also the finance minister, has met with Sajjan and did not accuse him to be a Sikh nationalist.
Sour grapes may also have played a role. Singh also said he was upset that he was not allowed to speak at political rallies in Canada last year, although he did not say why he was not allowed to speak.
“Minister Sajjan is a proud Canadian, with a lifetime of service to Canada.” Sajjan’s spokesperson said in response to the flap. Sajjan was born in the Punjab village of Bombeli but has lived in Canada since he was five.
Sajjan himself said, “I don’t promote the break-up of any country. My job is to promote the bilateral relations.”