WASHINGTON: The Justin Trudeau government torpedoed efforts by New Delhi to reach out to separatists Sikhs in Canada bowing to pressure from extremist Khalistanis, a Canadian commentator has revealed, amid growing scrutiny of Ottawa’s purported indulgence and patronage of militants.
The Modi government’s outreach, according to the columnist Terry Glavin in the National Post, came in 2016-17 when it sought the help of British Sikh activist Jasdev Singh Rai for talks with “veteran Canadian Khalistanis who were growing weary of agitating for a separate Sikh state in India that India’s Sikhs want nothing to do with.”
Rai met with the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service during several visits to Canada, but the Trudeau government bowed to a Khalistani-influenced group of gurudwara leaders and “obstructed the peace dialogue process,” Glavin quotes Rai as saying.
Rai eventually found himself barred from Canada. Rai had not responded to requests for elaboration at the time of writing.
“Little was accomplished by the Canada-India cooperation framework on intelligence and security signed during Trudeau’s disastrous costume-pageantry tour of India in 2018. Even before then, the newly-elected Trudeau government had already alienated India by shutting down efforts Modi was making to reconcile with Khalistanis who for years had been fomenting violence in India from their Canadian safe haven,” Glavin writes.
The disclosure comes amid increasing scrutiny of what critics say is Trudeau’s double standards on issues of sovereignty and separatism, while accusing him of turning a blind eye to violent separatist Khalistanis operating openly in Canada even as he has accused India of organising a hit on Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who was a proclaimed offender wanted by New Delhi on terrorism charges.
Videos are now surfacing on social media of Nijjar practising with assault weapons at an undisclosed shooting range even though he claimed to be a “humble plumber” who eventually became the head of a gurdwara.
Questions are also being raised about how Nijjar became a Canadian citizen, even though he reportedly moved to Canada in 1997 with a false passport when he was wanted in India on terrorism-related charges and Canadian immigration authorities initially rejected his citizenship application.
While ties between Ottawa and New Delhi have taken a toxic turn following Trudeau going public with “credible allegation” of a “potential link” “between agents of the government of India and the killing of a Canadian citizen” — in itself a sketchy formulation — separatist Khalistani activists, including some from the US, are having a free run in Canada.
On Tuesday, videos surfaced on social media of Gurpatwant Singh Pannu, a Sikh separatist activist based in US, warning “Indo-Canadian Hindus” to leave Canada.