| New Delhi, India | 15 April 2016 | Asia Samachar
Harjit Singh Sajjan, the decorated Sikh army officer who made headlines when made Canadian defence minister in November 2015, will ‘miss’ one meeting in his four day official visit to India starting 19 April.
He will not be meeting Captain Amarinder Singh who recently led the Congress Party back to victory in the Punjab state elections.
While appearing in an Indian television programme, Capt Amarinder had labelled Harjit and some colleagues from the Canadian federal government led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as Khalistani sympathisers.
“Harjit Sajjan is a Khalistani sympathiser and so was his father…There were, in fact, five ministers in the Justin Trudeau government who were Khalistani sympathisers and I will not have any truck with them.”
Some quarters viewed the cold treatment towards a highly popular minister from a foreign nation as a retribution to Capt Amarinder’s foiled trip to Canada. In June 2016, Amarinder had cancelled a scheduled seven-day trip to Canada after he was threatened with a case related to torture in a court in Toronto, according to one report.
Reacting to the remarks, the Canadian High Commission in New Delhi said: “The comments regarding Canada’s ministers are both disappointing and inaccurate….We regret that the Chief Minister of Punjab is unavailable to meet with Canada’s Minister of Defence. The Chief Minister is welcome to visit Canada.”
It also asserted that Canada greatly values its relationship with the people and the government of Punjab, and look forward to further advancing this relationship, reports DNA India.
While the chief minister has called Harjit and his Sikh colleagues in the Canadian government pro-Khalistan sympathisers, the ministry of external affairs has called him a war hero.
In its bio note sent to the Punjab government on April 5, India’s Ministry of External Affairs had described Sajjan as a man with an illustrious career “who has served Canada and his community” as both a soldier and a police officer, Times of India noted in another report.
The note lists his counter-terror assignments in Afghanistan as a roll of honour.
“Harjit is a retired lieutenant-colonel in the Canadian Armed Forces and a combat veteran. He was deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina and served three separate deployments in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
“He has received numerous recognitions for his service including the Meritorious Service Medal for reducing the Taliban’s influence in Kandahar Province,” the note says and adds details of his service in the Vancouver Police.
When present US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley visited Punjab in November 2014 as the governor of North Carolina, the then Badal government had called her a state guest.
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