By Jaideep Sarin
Chandigarh– Citing non-availability of “sufficient evidence”, the Canadian government has told India that there is no threat to Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and has concluded its investigation into the matter.
In a communication to the Indian authorities, Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development has stated that the investigation had been conducted by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).
Sources in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in New Delhi told IANS that the Canadian authorities, in the communication, has said that the RCMP investigation has determined that there is no evidence of direct physical threat made towards Amarinder Singh.
It further stated that there was “not sufficient evidence” to file criminal charges or proceed against anyone. The Canadian government said that in view of the findings, the investigation had been concluded.
The Indian High Commission in Canada had lodged a “formal complaint” to Global Affairs-Canada (Canada’s foreign office) in April following a threat publicly issued to the Punjab Chief Minister by pro-Khalistan elements during a Vaisakhi Day event in British Columbia’s Surrey city.
The threat was part of the hate speeches made by Sikh radicals operating out of Canada.
Videos of the Vaisakhi Parade in Surrey on April 22 were sent to the Canadian foreign ministry as proof.
Indian authorities had also objected to the public display of Khalistan floats with images of slain separatist leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and other terrorists, pictures of AK-47s and photographs of former and serving army and police officers who are on the hit-list of Sikh radicals.
MEA sources said that the Canadian authorities were cautioned about the “anti-India propaganda” of the Khalistani elements as India was anticipating trouble. The Canadian foreign ministry, responding to the early warning, said it would take “necessary action”.
However, the Khalistani elements were allowed to have a free run and even issued threats on loudspeakers to Amarinder Singh in front of hundreds of people from the Indian community who participated in the April 22 parade. The Canadian provincial police and security agencies were present when all this happened, the sources told IANS.
Amarinder Singh on Friday again stressed the need for Canada to rein in the radical elements, who were “trying to use Canadian soil to spread strife and divisiveness in India”.
The Chief Minister raised the issue with Jalandhar-born Canadian MP Rameshwar Singh Sangha, who met him in New Delhi on Friday.
“Such elements, including Khalistani supporters, could not have any impact on the Canadian political environment but they could influence the people of India and vitiate the atmosphere here,” Amarinder Singh pointed out.
“The Canadian government should crack down on these forces and ensure that they do not have a free run on social media and other public platforms, the Chief Minister added.
The Amarinder Singh government had, in April, cold-shouldered visiting Canadian Defence Minister of Indian-origin Harjit Singh Sajjan as he travelled to various places in Punjab.
He had refused to meet Sajjan, the first Sikh to be the Defence Minister of a Western country, accusing him and other ministers of Punjab origin in the government of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of links to radical elements demanding a separate Sikh state of Khalistan.
No minister or senior officer of the Punjab government went to welcome Sajjan or even accompany him during the visit.
Amarinder Singh made it clear that he “would not meet any Khalistani sympathisers”.
He was annoyed with the Canadian government since April last year when he was denied permission to visit that country, which has a sizeable Punjabi Diaspora, in the run-up to the Punjab assembly elections. A radical organisation, Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), had complained to the Canadian government against the visit.
The Congress leader had to cancel his trip after being told by the Canadian authorities at the last minute that he could not be allowed to visit the country for holding political rallies and meetings. The visit was aimed at wooing influential Non-Resident Indian (NRI) groups in Canada. (IANS)