Chandigarh, April 13 (Punjabkhabar Bureau): Rejecting Canada’s defence of Harjit Singh Sajjan, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh said late today he stood by his principled stand of not associating himself with any “Khalistani sympathiser".
Amarinder, as Punjab chief minister, was found standing in front of an inscription that said “Khalistan Zindabad” during his visit to Dixie Gurdwara in Ontario, Canada, in May 2005. He had then defended himself by stating that separatists needed to be brought to the mainstream. But that is a different story.
However, in a release, Amarinder reiterated that Sajjan, and several other ministers and top leaders in Canada, were sympathising with those indulging in anti-India activities, notwithstanding Canada’s claims to the contrary.
Reiterating his stand on the issue, the Chief Minister said that while, as a democratic nation, India believed in the freedom of speech, which was enshrined in the Constitution, he would personally not meet any Khalistani sympathisers. 2005 has conveniently been forgotten.
The Chief Minister said while Sajjan was welcome to attend conferences and meets, and even to visit Darbar Sahib, he would personally not entertain the Canadian minister as he had concrete information about his being a Khalistani sympathiser, just as his father Kundan Sajjan, a board member of the World Sikh Organisation, was. The state government would provide security to the minister and also ensure that he gets due treatment as per protocol but he would not be seen hobnobbing with a Khalistani sympathiser, the release said, quoting Amarinder.
'I’m not bothered about what Sajjan or others in the Canadian government think about my stand. I am concerned only about the detrimental impact of these Khalistani sympathisers on the country, particularly on Punjab'
According to Amarinder, not only Sajjan but other ministers and MPs, including Navdeep Bains, Amarjit Sohi, Sukh Dhaiwal, Darshan Kang, Raj Grewal, Harinder Malhi, Roby Sahota, Jagmeet Singh and Randeep Sari, were well known for their leanings towards the Khalistani movement.
Amarinder also lashed out at the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Dal Khalsa for their criticism of his refusal to meet the Canadian defence minister during the latter’s expected visit to India later this month. He accused these outfits of playing into the hands of forces inimical to India.
Amarinder said he was worried not about what the Canadians, including Sajjan, felt about his stand but about the future of Punjab, which had suffered immensely at the hands of Khalistani terrorist forces at the height of militancy.
As many as 35,000 innocent lives were lost during those days of violence, the Chief Minister pointed out, adding that people like Sajjan had not only run away from the turmoil to settle abroad but were encouraging such extremist elements by supporting their philosophy.
“I’m not bothered about what Sajjan or others in the Canadian government think about my stand. I am concerned only about the detrimental impact of these Khalistani sympathisers on the country, particularly on Punjab,” said Amarinder in the release, reacting to Canada’s response to his statement and Dal Khalsa leadership’s assertion that his refusal to meet Sajjan will bring down his own stature and not that of the Canadian minister.
Accusing the Dal Khalsa of playing to the gallery by choosing to join issue with him on the matter, the Chief Minister said he had never believed in public posturing for the sake of political propriety or necessity but had stood by principles. From breaking away from the Congress in the wake of Operation Bluestar to resigning from the Lok Sabha over the SYL issue, he had always upheld the values that protected the interests of Punjab and its people, Amarinder said.
The Chief Minister also flayed the AAP leadership’s attack on him for his principled stand, terming their reaction as expected and in line with AAP national convenor Arvind Kejriwal’s proven softness for Khalistani forces. Kejriwal had shown his extremist leanings by staying at a former Khalistan Commando Force (KCF) militant during one of his visits to Punjab as part of his election campaign, Amarinder pointed, adding that, in the circumstances, AAP’s strong reaction was quite natural.
Kejriwal had unsuccessfully targeted Khalistanis, along with Naxalites, during the Punjab assembly election campaign, exposing his party’s real agenda, said the Chief Minister, adding that the party’s attack on him now had simply endorsed what the people of Punjab already knew about their true intentions.
Amarinder made it clear that he stood by what he had said on the issue during his conversation with eminent journalist Shekhar Gupta on his "Off the Cuff” show for NDTV 24X7.