The Tribune – Canadian court to hear plea against retired CRPF officer

Tribune News Service

Moga, 27 May 2017. A Canadian court has accepted an application accusing former CRPF IG Tejinder Singh Dhillon of extra-judicial torture of Sikh youths during militancy in Punjab.

The Canadian High Commission in New Delhi had initially refused visa to him, but after a protest by the Indian Government, the former not only granted it but also gave a complimentary ticket to the retired IG to visit the country.

Jatinder Singh Grewal of the Sikhs for Justice, a human rights group, today appeared before the Justice of Peace in Toronto and levelled the allegations of torture on the basis of a victim’s affidavit. The court has fixed May 29 as the date of hearing.

Dhillon is in Toronto to attend a wedding.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/canadian-court-to-hear-plea-against-retd-crpf-officer/413879.html

Sikh24.com – Canada puts human rights first and deports former Indian police inspector

Sikh24 Editors

Vancouver-BC-Canada, 23 May 2017. The government of India has had it’s feathers ruffled as a former Inspector General of the CPRF (Central Reserve Police Force) was forced to return to India, reportedly due to having a served a government “that engages in “terrorism, systematic or gross human rights violations, or genocide”.

The bold and forthright move was made after the senior Indian officer was questioned upon landing at Vancouver airport and following an overnight reprieve at his friend’s house, was asked to return to continue questioning. A short time later he was refused entry into Canada and sent back to India.

The CPRF and other law enforcement agencies of the Indian government have a notorious reputation for conducting excessive torture and extra-judicial killings. Throughout India’s troubled zones (Kashmir, Punjab, Assam etc), the CPRF and other agencies have inflicted horrendous torture on suspects and their extended families.

Countries such as the USA and the UK have often been lobbied to take heed at the atrocities committed by India on it’s own people. This has rarely been taken up on an official level due to the aforementioned countries keeping business and political ties first, and human rights issues are paid only lip service.

Canada’s bold stand has been welcomed by many human rights activists who have not seen such open condemnation of the Indian government’s dismal reputation coming often from the western leadership.

http://www.sikh24.com/2017/05/23/canada-puts-human-rights-first-and-deports-former-indian-police-inspector/#.WSZjTsYlHIU

The Hindu – India upset at Canadian visa denial

Ex-CRPF IG was refused entry on grounds of human rights abuse

Special Correspondent

New Delhi, 23 May 2017. Adding to the growing number of bilateral issues, India on Tuesday objected to Canada’s denial of entry to a former police official. The official response came days after Tejinder Singh was denied entry into Canada on grounds of human rights abuse.

“We have seen the news report regarding denial of entry by Canadian authorities to a senior retired Indian police officer. Such a characterisation of a reputed force like the CRPF is completely unacceptable. We have taken up the matter with the Government of Canada,” said Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Gopal Baglay.

According to news reports, Canadian authorities alleged that he was in service of a government “that engages or has engaged in terrorism, systematic or gross human rights violations, or genocide, a war crime or a crime against humanity.”

Mr Singh, who retired as Inspector-General of CRPF in 2010, was denied entry under a subsection of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. The criticism of the Government of India was removed in the final document given to him but he was nevertheless denied entry.

After 7 years

Canada has used the allegation of human rights in the latest case, after seven years. In 2010, Canada had denied visa to a member of the Armed Forces Tribunal, three serving Brigadiers, a retired Lt General and a former senior official of the Intelligence Bureau on the ground that their organisations had violated human rights.

However, in a late evening press release on Tuesday, the High Commissioner of Canada regretted inconveniences caused to Mr Singh and his family. “We regret any inconvenience that may have been experienced by this individual and their family. Canada’s privacy laws prevent me from commenting further,” said Nadir Patel, the High Commissioner, in the press release.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/india-upset-at-canadian-visa-denial/article18555437.ece

The Tribune – Punjabi immigrants win BC polls

Sarbjit Dhaliwal, Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, 10 May 2017. Indo-Canadians have registered significant wins in the British Columbia elections. Most Punjabi immigrants have won on the New Democratic Party ticket from the Surrey region.

A former basketball player, Jagrup Singh Brar, has been elected from Surrey Fleetwood. He belongs to Deon village in Bathinda district. Before moving to Canada, he played basketball for India at the national level.

Harry Bains, elected for the fourth time, has won from Surrey Newton. He defeated Gurminder Parihar of the Liberal Party. Bains is a member of the BC Assembly since 2005.

First-timer Rachna Singh, has won from Surrey Green Timber as NDP candidate. She is the daughter of Punjabi writer Dr Raghbir Singh and wife of journalist Gurpreet Singh. Rachna has had her education in Chandigarh.

Raj Chouhan, elected fourth time in a row, has won from Burnaby Edmonds as NDP candidate. Chouhan was president of the Canadian Farm Workers Union.

Ravi Kahlon has represented the Canadian hockey team in the Olympics twice. He has been elected from Delta North as NDP nominee. From Surrey Panorama, Jinny Sims defeated Liberal’s Puneet Sandhar. Former TV reporter Jas Johal has been elected from Richmond Queensborough, defeating NDP’s Aman Singh.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/punjabi-immigrants-win-bc-polls/405338.html

The Hindu – India protests Canadian PM’s presence at ‘Khalsa Day’

Event in Toronto saw felicitation of separatist elements; parade included floats glorifying Sikh militant leaders, including Bhindranwale

Suhasini Haidar

New Delhi, 10 May 2017.  India indicated that it has taken up the issue of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s attendance at a Sikh community event in Toronto that saw a felicitation of separatist elements again, after earlier protests on similar issues appear to have gone unheeded by the government.

“We have taken up such issues in the past with the government of Canada, and in this particular instance, without getting into details, I can tell you the practice has not been discontinued,” said Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Gopal Baglay.

On April 30, Mr. Trudeau addressed a parade for ‘Khalsa Day’, which included floats glorifying Sikh militant leaders Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, Amrik Singh and former General Shahbeg Singh who were killed in the siege of the Golden Temple and Operation Bluestar in June 1984.

The procession, organised by the Ontario Sikhs and Gurdwara Council, also felicitated the legislator from Mr. Trudeau’s Liberal Party, Harinder Kaur Malhi who had moved a resolution on “genocide” against India for the anti-Sikh riots of November 1984, that was passed by the Ontario Assembly on April 6 this year.

India had raised a strong protest after the vote (34-5), calling it a “misguided motion based on a limited understanding of India, its constitution, society, ethos, rule of law and its judicial process,”, with the government expressing its unhappiness both with the High Commission in Delhi, and with the Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan when he met with Defence Minister Arun Jaitley in Delhi on April 18.

But the tussle between the Indian government and the issue of Sikh groups in Canada is an ongoing one, say Indian diplomats.

“This is an issue we will have to grapple with, not just in the provinces, but in the House of Commons, where many of these Sikh separatist groups believe they now have a sympathetic ear,” a former diplomat well-versed with the issues, told The Hindu, speaking of the election of the Liberal party to power.

The party includes several prominent figures of separatist Sikh organisations as elected leaders.

The Canadian High Commission in Delhi refused to comment despite several requests.

Mr. Trudeau is expected to visit India “late this year or early next year” according to Canada’s High Commissioner to India Nadir Patel, and the issues over the growth of Khalistani groups in Canada are likely to be highlighted further as other officials from Ottowa travel to India in the run-up to the Trudeau visit.

Meanwhile, Sikh groups who participated in the Khalsa Day event accused India of trying to bring “economic pressure” on the Canadian government by issuing statements over the event.

“Strengthening India-Canada ties are one thing, but on issues of human rights, you cannot stop the Canadian government from taking a stand on principle,” said Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, Legal Adviser for US-based hardline advocacy group ‘Sikhs for Justice’ over telephone.

Mr. Pannun is leading the campaign for a “referendum” in 2020, where he says all Sikhs in Punjab and the diaspora worldwide would be asked to vote on the issue of a separate state for Sikhs, flags and posters for which were also prominently featured at the event Mr. Trudeau attended, becoming the first Canadian PM to attend the ‘Khalsa Day’ event in a decade.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/india-protests-canadian-pms-presence-at-khalsa-day/article18420866.ece?homepage=true

Sikh24.com – Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) Defends Canadian Sikh Separatists And “Khalistan” Floats

Sikhs for Justice

New York, 2 May 2017. Responding to India’s complaint to the Canadian government regarding “perceived threats” to Captain Amarinder during April 22 Khalsa Parade in Canada, human rights group “Sikhs for Justice” (SFJ) termed it as a nefarious attempt to curb the freedom of expression of Sikh separatists living in Canada.

SFJ in a press release stated that Canadian Sikhs have a constitutionally protected right to express any political opinion no matter how discomforting it may be for Indian Government, including propagating for Sikh homeland “Khalistan” and campaign for Referendum 2020 to liberate Indian occupied Punjab.

On April 22 during Khalsa Day parade in Surrey, BC, more than 200,000 Sikh participants followed the “Khalistan” float with the images of martyred Sikh leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and other notable Sikh separatists who laid down their lives resisting Indian government during 1990s.

Calling India’s complaint against SFJ to Global Affairs Canada as frivolous, attorney Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, legal advisor to SFJ stated that, “Separatism is not Terrorism and SFJ always works within the law”.

“Captain Amarinder is a human rights violator as per international laws and we are waiting for him to be in Canada, America or European Union Countries so that we can hold Punjab Chief Minister accountable and prosecute him for crimes against humanity”, added attorney Pannun.

During April 2016 SFJ successfully blocked Captain Amarinder from addressing public rallies in Canada by initiating a “private prosecution” seeking arrest warrant of the Chief Minister of Punjab for his culpability in the torture of Sikhs in Punjab during his 2002 tenure as Chief Minister.

Several Canadian Sikhs were abducted, tortured and extra-judicially killed by Indian security forces in Punjab during the counter insurgency operations in late 1990’s.

SFJ alleged that Captain Amarinder during 2002, being head of the Government of Punjab, started the practice of reinstating, promoting and protecting the police officials named repeatedly by victims and human rights groups as perpetrators of torture, disappearances, and extrajudicial executions in 1990’s.

http://www.sikh24.com/2017/05/02/sfj-defends-canadian-sikh-separatists-and-khalistan-floats/#.WQoTgsYlHIU

The Tribune – India protests ‘threat’ to Captain

Writes to Canada on pro-Khalistan event

Chandigarh, 1 May 2017. A threat publicly issued to Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh by pro-Khalistan elements during an event in Surrey city of Canada’s British Columbia province recently has drawn an official protest from India.

Sources said the Indian High Commission in Canadian capital Ottawa has lodged a “formal complaint” to Global Affairs-Canada, the foreign office, last week.

Videos of the ‘Vaisakhi Parade’ on April 22 have been sent to the Canadian foreign ministry as proof of the open threats by Sikh hardliners. The communication has also objected to the public display of Khalistan floats with images of terrorists, pictures of Kalashnikov rifles and photographs of former and serving army and police officers who are on the hit-list of Sikh radicals.

It is learnt that the Canadian authorities were cautioned about the “anti-India propaganda” on April 13 itself. The Canadian foreign ministry, responding to the early warning, said it would take “necessary action”.

“These kinds of open and cheap threats show the extent of radicalisation in a relatively small section of the Sikh community in Canada. They endorse our stand of pro-Khalistani leanings of such elements in the Canadian Sikh community,” Raveen Thukral, media adviser to the Punjab Chief Minister, said.

Captain Amarinder had refused to meet Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, accusing him and other ministers of Punjab origin in the government of Canadian PM Justin Trudeau of links with radical elements. (IANS)

http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/india-protests-threat-to-capt/400906.html

Huffington Post – The semantics of genocide and the bugbear of Khalistan

A long article, but worth the effort of reading it, both for Sikhs and non-Sikhs.
Man in Blue

Sarbpreet Singh, Contributor, Playwright, commentator and writer

Boston, 21 April 2017. On 26 December 2014, The Union Home Minister of India, Rajnath Singh visited Tilakvihar, a poor and blighted neighborhood in Delhi, also known as The Widow Colony where the wives and children of Sikhs who were murdered in 1984 had been settled.

Speaking about the violence that had raged in Delhi after the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, which in an insidious game of semantics that had lasted for thirty years, had been disingenuously characterized as a ‘riot’, he said : “It was not a riot, it was genocide instead. Hundreds of innocent people were killed..”

On 6 April 2017 government of Ontario, Canada passed a motion declaring :

“In the opinion of this House, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, should reaffirm our commitment to the values we cherish, justice, human rights and fairness, and condemn all forms of communal violence, hatred, hostility, racism and intolerance in India and anywhere else in the world, including the 1984 Genocide perpetrated against the Sikhs throughout India, and call on all sides to embrace truth, justice and reconciliation.”

Particularly in the light of Rajnath Singh’s pronouncement in 2014, the response of the Indian government and the Indian media is extremely troubling and bears examination.

The official response to the motion was to reject it and call it misguided, suggesting that it was “based on a limited understanding of India, its constitution, society, ethos, rule of law and the judicial process”.

This response is problematic for many reasons, perhaps the most significant being the suggestion that somehow the Indian judicial process had adequately addressed the horrific violence of 1984, which even the most casual observer will recognize as newspeak.

The equally important and I would say subtler issue with this response is the suggestion that the ethos of Indian society condones the mis-characterizing of horrific sectarian violence and the rejection of justice. I know for a fact that this suggestion is patently false!

How can I say this with such confidence?

For the past two and a half years, I have been traveling the world with Kultar’s Mime, a play about the 1984 genocide, created and directed by J Mehr Kaur. Our travels have taken us to India twice, where the play has been presented in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Chandigarh and Amritsar.

In the cities outside the Punjab, our audience was mostly non-Sikh. Kultar’s Mime is a powerful and emotional play that pulls no punches as it tells the story of the 1984 Delhi genocide from the perspective of four young Sikh survivors.

It also unflinchingly draws attention to the organizers of the violence, who have been named in reports produced by unimpeachable Human Rights groups and intrepid journalists.

In the Fall of 2014, when the play was presented mostly on the East Coast in the US and Canada, we talked about the possibility to taking it to India. All of our well-wishers tried to dissuade us, suggesting that an attempt to draw attention to the 1984 genocide would be met with hostility or worse in India.

I have to confess that when we landed in Delhi in October 2014 and prepared to present for the first time in India on October 31, the thirty year anniversary of the genocide, we did so with great trepidation. I was convinced that we would be discredited as trouble makers, intent on reopening the wounds of the past.

I was delighted to be proven wrong! The play was met with an outpouring of support and empathy, eliciting positive coverage in newspapers such as The Hindu, The Telegraph, The Times of India, The Indian Express, The Pioneer, The Tribune, Mid-Day and many more.

Even more heartening was the response of young Indians, born after the horrific events of 1984 who had absolutely no prior knowledge of the genocide.

The important lesson that I learned when we took the story of the 1984 genocide back to India was that humanity of the common man is alive and well as is his ability to empathize. Nobody felt a need to vilify us for drawing attention to the horrific events of 1984.

Nobody accused us of having “… a limited understanding of India, its constitution, society, ethos, rule of law and the judicial process” even though we were absolutely willing to lay the responsibility for the massacre where it belonged!

Why then this response to the Ontario motion? Why is the government of India so afraid of any attempts to draw attention to a dark chapter in the nation’s history, while common people seem to have no issue acknowledging it and responding with compassion?

My question is of course, rhetorical.

This brings me to the second topic that I would like to address in this article : the bugbear of Khalistan.

As I was reading the coverage of the Ontario motion in the Indian press, I was struck by a common thread that ran through most of the coverage.

After reporting on the motion and the Indian government’s official response, most of the stories turned their attention to ‘pro Khalistan’ groups which allegedly played a significant role in getting the motion introduced and passed.

Captain Amarinder Singh, the newly elected Chief Minister of Punjab went so far as to label the Defense Minister Of Canada, Harjit Singh Sajjan, a much decorated war hero as a ‘Khalistani supporter’.

The powerful in India, particularly those affiliated with the Congress Party, responsible for perpetrating the 1984 genocide, have raised the specter of Khalistan over and over again every time attention is drawn to the fact that thirty-two years after one of the most heinous crimes perpetrated in independent India, those responsible continue to stalk the corridors of power with impunity.

This canard is particularly toxic because it immediately draws attention away from the victims and perpetrators by focusing it on a ‘threat’ that is so deeply rooted in the nation’s psyche that the mere mention of it is sufficient to banish empathy and supplant it with fear.

As a Sikh leader who has traveled extensively and participated in many Sikh fora over the last several years, and is somewhat aware of what is happening in the community at large, let me go out on a limb and say this.

This notion of a present day ‘Khalistani threat’ is utter nonsense! It is about as credible as the ‘Northwest Territorial Imperative’ to carve out an Aryan homeland in the US and Canada!

The fact that Indian press knows this, as does Captain Amarinder Singh only underscores the brazenness of their position!

I recently had a first hand encounter with the effect of this cynical propaganda that I would like to share with my readers.

On April 9, just three days after the Ontario motion was passed, the Harvard Pluralism Project presented Kultar’s Mime at Harvard University as part of a program designed to address the current climate of fear and uncertainty, wrought in no small part by the lingering effects of the US Presidential election.

After the performance, Dr Diana Eck, Harvard Professor and the Director of The Pluralism Project moderated a discussion with the audience, in which J Mehr Kaur and I participated.

The discussion progressed like many others before with the audience responding emotionally to what they had experienced, expressing both shock and empathy as we pondered the larger issues relating to sectarian violence organized by state actors.

And then a hand went up int he audience. It was a young woman, a recent immigrant from India who wanted to know what my opinion was of Jarnail Singh Bhinderanwale and what I thought of the recent resurgence of the Khalistan movement! It was an unexpected question that left me nonplussed for a moment!

It is important here to set some context for those of my readers who are not intimately familiar with the history of the events of 1984. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, in June 1984 launched an attack on the Golden Temple in Amritsar, ostensibly to flush out a band of Sikh militants under the leader of the charismatic Sikh preacher, Jarnail Singh Bhinderanwale, who had sought refuge in the complex.

Punjab had been wracked by violence for several yeas preceding the attack, which was attributed by the Indian Government and the Press to Sikh militants, who were agitating for the creation of a Sikh state called Khalistan.

The violence continued for almost a decade after 1984 and with the benefit of hindsight we now know that a plethora of actors, that included criminals, state police and paramilitary agencies, rogue government-sponsored vigilantes and Sikh militants contributed.

Unraveling the complex political realities of the Punjab from the mid seventies to the mid nineties is a subject worthy of discussion but far beyond the scope of this article. It is a well accepted fact that militancy in the Punjab was snuffed out by the mid-nineties through the crushing use of force by the government.

Suffice it so say that Jarnail Singh Bhinderanwale was a polarizing figure who to this day is variously described as a knight errant whose only agenda was to rid modern day Sikhism of various corrupt practices that had set in, a bloodthirsty terrorist who ordered the killing of innocent Hindus with impunity, a dupe of Indira Gandhi’s political party who used him to play electoral politics in the Punjab, a simple minded village preacher etc. based on one’s viewpoint and worldview.

Why do I even bring this up?

The Sikh genocide of 1984 in inexorably linked to the political history of the Punjab in the eighties, which if one is not vigilant, can give credence to an extremely toxic narrative which goes roughly as follows:

The Sikhs were at odds with the Indian government and embraced militancy and the movement to create Khalistan to further their political demands, exemplified by the rise of Jarnail Singh Bhinderanwale.

That caused Indira Gandhi to launch an assault on the Golden Temple and resulted in her assassination by her Sikh bodyguards. That in turn prompted retaliatory attacks against Sikhs, which were unfortunate but somewhat understandable. The Sikhs after all, in a certain sense, had ‘asked for it’.

That is the narrative that all right thinking people need to reject! As well as the implication that anyone who draws attention to the gross injustice of the 1984 genocide must somehow be a follower of Jarnail Singh Bhinderanwale or a supporter of Khalistan!

This is the cynical game that The Indian Government and the Indian Media are playing in their response to the Ontario motion. Amarinder Singh is playing exactly the same game when he dubs Harjit Singh Sajjan a ‘Khalsitani’.

The young woman who asked the unexpected question, I am sure, did so with no malice at all! It is simply the effectiveness of the carefully crafted narrative speaking!

Let me say this! I honestly do not know who Jarnail Singh Bhinderanwale was and in the context of the 1984 genocide, I do not care. Nor should anyone else!

No matter who he was or what he did or did not do, nothing can every justify the savagery of the 1984 Sikh Genocide. Trying to link the two is a thinly disguised attempt at justifying the killing of thousands of innocents and the unleashing of terror that continues to haunt an entire community thirty two years later, as it seeks acknowledgement and justice.

Those who seek to make this connection need to be ashamed of themselves. Those who allow themselves to be seduced by a Goebbelsian narrative to justify such savagery need to introspect.

The government of India needs to understand that acknowledging the 1984 Sikh genocide and making an honest attempt to address its festering wounds will only strengthen the ‘largest democracy in the world’. Embracing the Ontario motion rather than vilifying it can only enhance India’s reputation in the community of nations.

There is nothing to be afraid of!

Sarbpreet Singh is a playwright, commentator and poet, who has been writing while pursuing a career in technology for several years. He is the author of Kultar’s Mime, a poem about the 1984 Sikh Genocide. His commentary has appeared on NPR’s Morning Edition and Worldview, The Boston Herald, The Providence Journal, The Milwaukee Journal and several other newspapers and magazines. He is the founder and director of the Gurmat Sangeet Project, a non-profit dedicated to the preservation of traditional Sikh music and serves on the boards of various non-profits focused on service and social justice. He is very active in Boston Interfaith circles and serves as a spiritual advisor at Northeastern University.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/58f35005e4b04cae050dc850

DNA India – Punjab CM faces defamation suit

Canada-based Sikh group announces $10,000 reward for serving summons to Punjab CM in defamation suit; Sikh groups in Punjab criticise CM for one-sided attack on Harjit Singh Sajjan.

Chandigarh, 19 April 2017. Sikh Human rights Advocacy group has filed a defamation suit against the Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh for alleging ISI links to the group.

Captain Amarinder had recently sparked a controversy after he refused to meet Canada Defence Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan alleging that he was among the five “Khalistani sympathisers” in the Canadian government.

The Congress leader came under attack from various Sikh extremist groups over his statement. The groups alleged that the CM was addressing his personal grouse against Sajjan for stalling his visit to Canada last year.

Hours after Harjit Singh Sajjan reached Delhi, a Canada-based Sikh Human Rights Advocacy group, Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) announced a reward of $10,000 to anyone who would serve the summon to CM.

Claiming damage of $1 million, the defamation suit was filed in Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice against Captain Amarinder who had alleged that the Sikh human rights group had links with the ISI in Pakistan.

The group issued a statement that CM’s remarks had caused reputational damage to SFJ’s status as a non-profit organisation and hindered its ability to address issues of Sikh community in Canada.

SFJ had earlier got the summon issued for Congress Chief Sonia Gandhi for shielding leaders allegedly involved in instigating 1984 riots. However, various efforts by the group to legally implicate senior leaders in the past have been largely unsuccessful as the summons need to be personally served to initiate any legal action.

Several Sikh extremist groups condemned the CM’s remarks and rebuffed him for a one-sided attack and insinuating an unwarranted controversy. Dal Khalsa Chief H S Cheema alleged that it was an attempt on CM’s part to please the Hindu vote bank which voted for him in the elections.

The Canadian Minister is slated to visit the Golden Temple [Harmandr Sahib] in Amritsar and meet his family members in Hoshiarpur.

It is Sajjan’s first visit to Punjab after being elected as the Minister of Defence, Canada. Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), which is the highest temporal body for Sikhs, has announced to honour the Canadian Minister. Other Sikh groups, including Dal Khalsa, also expressed interest in honoring the leader.

Sajjan is also slated to inaugurate the Canadian’s Consulate General’s new office in Chandigarh on April 21.

http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-punjab-cm-faces-defamation-suit-2407300

The Hindu – India opposes ‘genocide’ charge

Jaitley tells Canadian Defence Minister that the charge by provincial parliament has caused disquiet

Special Correspondent

New Delhi, 16 April 2017. India has registered a strong note of protest before the visiting Canadian Defence Minister, Harjit Singh Sajjan, against a provincial Assembly legislation which had accused India of “genocide” in the events of 1984.

According to Defence Ministry sources, Arun Jaitley made this the focus during their bilateral discussion.

‘Unwarranted comment’

Calling the Bill an unwarranted comment on India’s internal situation, Mr Jaitley conveyed that there was considerable “disquiet” in India and the language was “unreal and exaggerated” which did not conform to reality.

“It was conveyed that as another liberal democracy, it is not in the spirit of India-Canada relations and did not help in furthering the relationship,” a Ministry source said.

In response to Mr Jaitley’s comments, Mr Sajjan dissociated himself from the situation, and said it was a private member’s Bill and moved in the context of the local elections. “He said it did not reflect the position of the Canadian government,” the source stated.

Early this month, Harinder Malhi, Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) from Brampton-Springdale, near Toronto, moved a private member’s motion in the Ontario Assembly.

The motion was passed after debate with 34 members voting in favour and five against of the total strength of 107.

Introducing the Bill, Ms Malhi had said, “The Legislative Assembly of Ontario should condemn all forms of communal violence, hatred, hostility, prejudice, racism and intolerance in India and anywhere else in the world, including the 1984 genocide perpetrated against Sikhs throughout India, and call on all sides to embrace truth, justice and reconciliation.”

In their discussions, the two ministers had agreed to deepen the defence cooperation.

Official visit

Mr. Sajjan is on an official visit to India from April 17 to 23 during which he is scheduled to travel to Amritsar, Chandigarh and Mumbai apart from his meetings in Delhi.

Responding to questions on the Khalistan issue at a public event later, Mr. Sajjan said he did not want to “get sucked into internal politics of any province or nation”.

“I don’t promote the breaking up of any country… My job is to build relationship with India,” he said.

Ahead of his visit, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh said he would not meet him as he is a “Khalistani sympathiser”.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/india-opposes-genocide-charge/article18115809.ece