Amid the debate over Khalistani ideologues allegedly being allowed to spread their wings in Canada, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Badal on Friday said that Khalistan is “no issue, either in Canada or in Punjab”.
Sukhbir made these comments while talking to HT in the context of news reports suggesting that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent Amritsar visit was shadowed by the Canadian government’s alleged coziness towards the Sikh radical and separatist groups in that country.
“This non-issue of Khalistan is mere media hype,” he added.
Sukhbir said Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh finally decided to meet the Canadian premier “under pressure of the global Sikh community and also of the people of Punjab”. Sukhbir was speaking on the sidelines of the SAD rally at Jhuneer village near Sardulgarh in Mansa district.
On the conspicuous absence of Union minister and SAD MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal in Amritsar on Wednesday for greeting Trudeau, Sukhbir said he was “not aware of the protocol adopted by the Centre on such occasions”.
It was Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri who was present as the Centre’s representative to accompany Trudeau at the Golden Temple.
Sukhbir said he had a friendly interaction with the Canadian PM at the Golden Temple, where he urged Trudeau to ensure the participation of Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee in the 550th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev in Canada next year.
Earlier at the rally, Sukhbir skipped any mention of the Canadian PM’s visit to Punjab. He also kept mum over the Modi government’s achievements in his speech, even as he mentioned SAD as the country’s “oldest political party, older than even the BJP”.
Warning to Bathinda IG
The SAD president accused Bathinda inspector general (IG) MS Chhina of being vindictive towards the SAD cadres and held him responsible for the registration of “false cases” against the party workers.
“I have this red pen with me and I write the name of every officer who is vindictive towards us, and let me warn the Bathinda IG, that the people of this (Sardulgarh) constituency are the actual IG and not Chhina,” he said.