Amidst controversy as a "Khalistani sympathiser" Canadian Defence Minister arrives in Amritsar

Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh's statement against Canadian defence minister Harjit Singh Sajjan terming him a "Khalistani sympathiser" has triggered a diplomatic row with the Canadian high commission on April 13 terming it "disappointing and inaccurate".

Sikh radicals, belonging to hardline Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) and other Sikh organisations, raised pro-Khalistan slogans and clashed with a task force of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee outside the complex as Sajjan arrived there.

However, the Canadian Defence Minister avoided the radical elements and was received by top SGPC functionaries, including its President Kirpal Singh Badungar, to a red carpet welcome.

Attired in a grey turban, a white shirt and a pair of grey pants, Sajjan took a "parikrama" (walk around the sanctum sanctorum) before listening to the "kirtan" (prayers) at the Golden Temple.

However, the Aam Aadmi Party welcomed Sajjan to Punjab and slammed Amarinder for his stand on the issue.

He reached the holy Sikh shrine shortly after 6 am and spent around 15 minutes inside its sanctum sanctorum. SGPC task force ensured the radical elements did not create any scene inside the shrine complex.

The SGPC as per traditions, honoured Mr. Sajjan by presenting with a "siropa" (robe of honour), shawl and set of religious books.

Mr. Sajjan is likely to visit Unique Home - a home for abandoned girl children in Jalandhar on his way to Bambeli -where he will meet almost 60 girls who live there.

Sajjan is a Sikh whose native village, Bambeli, falls in Hoshiarpur district of Punjab.

As the Deputy commissioner Amritsar Kamaldeep Singh Sangha was not in the city, Ajnala sub-divisional magistrate Anupreet Kaur received the dignitary at Sri Guru Ramdas Airport. He also visited an all-girls orphanage in Jalandhar city, 150 km from here.

  • Leroy Wright