THE TRUDEAU SAGA :Khalistan, Sovereignty & Nationalism
- February 22, 2018
- Posted by: admin
- Category: General Knowledge
Justin Trudeau’s visit to India has drummed up more controversy than any other Prime Ministerial visit in recent memory. The Indian Prime Minister did not receive his Canadian counterpart, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh did not accompany Trudea to the Taj Mahal and even the Gujarat Chief Minister did not make time to meet Prime Minister Trudeau. All in all, the diplomatic drubbing seems undeniable for the head of a sovereign State that has long been a friendly state to India. The issue further seems to cut across party lines since the main controversy is the issue surrounding the Khalistan movement and the outrage expressed by the Congress Chief Minister of Punjab, Capt. Amarinder Singh, whilst the UP CM, Gujarat CM and the Indian PM are all leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party [Hereafter, the “BJP”].
B.Brief History of the Khalistan Movement
The story of course begins in the 18th century when the Sikh Misls ruled over Punjab from 1767 to 1799. Through the British colonization, the idea of an independent state for the Sikhs continued to fester in the modern day region of Punjab. Ultimately, as the waves of partition came crashing down separatism reared its ugly head towards the Republic of India. There was large scale migration of the Sikhs from the Pakistan region of Punjab which subsequently led to the growing demand for Khalistan. The movement picked up pace with Jagjit Singh Chauhan accelerated the accumulation of wealth in 1971. He became the self-styled president of the “Republic of Khalistan,” appointed a cabinet, issued symbolic passports and postage stamps, and created “Khalistan dollars.” He opened embassies in Britain and other European countries. He stayed in close touch with Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale till the very end. Militancy ultimately took drastic directions and everything culminated in Operation Blue Star where the Indian Armed Forces entered the Golden Temple and killed Bhindranwale. However, in my opinion, movements like these they rarely die in their entirety, whether it is the dream of a re-unified Soviet Union or the caliphate or even Khalistan. Elements here and there have continued to express solidarity with the modern non-militant version in the Akali Dal and that solidarity and even passive participation continues to be at the heart of the controversy surrounding Prime Minister Trudeau.
C.Udta Punjab ka CM!
In an interview to the outlook, Capt. Amarinder Singh categoriacally stated that “on the face of it, there seems to be evidence that there are Khalistani sympathisers in Canadian PM Trudeau’s cabinet.” This set the tone for a clear confrontation right on the very eve of the Trudeau visit to India which was quickly classified as a non-official visit. This after Singh, in 2017, accused Canadian defence minister Harjit Sajjan — part of Trudeau’s delegation — of being sympathetic to the cause of Sikh separatists agitating for an independent Khalistan. According to a report in The Indian Express, Singh even publicly refused to meet Sajjan during his 2017 trip. To make matters worse, an MP from Trudeau’s party, Kevin Lamoureux, while speaking in the House of Commons, referred to Punjab as a country while speaking in the House. Whether it was a genuine mistake or plain ignorance is not clear. In the inevitable fallout, both Sajjan and Trudeau’s Cabinet member Amarjeet Sohi, who is the minister for infrastructure, had to deny links to Khalistani elements in the run-up to Trudeau’s visit. It certainly seemed like the stage was set for a diplomatic nightmare for both nations!
D.Repairing Relationships and Insisting on Hope
Amidst what seemed like a complete disaster, remnants of “Biriyani Diplomacy” seem to have surfaced between the Indians and the Canadians. Ultimately, Capt. Amarinder Singh and Justin Trudeau did end up meeting yesterday at Amritsar. It is understood that Trudeau affirmed that his country does not support any separatist movement in India or elsewhere. Historically, the separatist movement in Quebec province has been a matter of major concern for the Canadian governments as well. It is of particular significance to Justin because his father Pierre Trudeau spent a huge part of his 15 year old tenure of Prime Ministership handling the sovereignty movement of the French Canadians.
Taking a step ahead, the Punjab CM handed over to Trudeau a list of nine Category ‘A’ Canada-based operatives allegedly involved in hate crimes in Punjab by financing and supplying weapons for terrorist activities and trying to radicalise youth and children in the state. It is understood that Trudeau categorically gave this assurance to Amarinder after he sought Trudeau’s cooperation to crack down on separatist elements. One can only hope that the relationships will be repaired, the friendliness will be restored and the BJP led government at the centre also restores the long standing cordiality that has always existed between the two proud commonwealth nations.
 “Land of the Pure”
 Surjit Jolly, “Sikh Revivalist Movements” Gitanjali Publishing House (1988) at p. 6
 Haresh Pandya, “Jagjit Singh Chauhan, Sikh Militant Leader in India, Dies at 80”, New York Times, April 11, 2007
 Amberish K Diwanji, “There is a limit to how much a country can take”, (4 June 2004) Interview of Lt. Gen. Kuldip Singh Brar (retired) available at http://www.rediff.com/news/2004/jun/04inter1.htm as accessed on February 22, 2018
 Ushinor Majumdar, “Sikh Extremists In Canada, The UK And Italy are Working With ISI or Independently”, Interview of Capt. Amarinder Singh, Outlook, February 12, 2018.
 Kamaldeep Singh Brar, “Punjab: CM snubs, SAD, SGPC rush to welcome Canadian defence minister Harjit Singh Sajjan”, The Indian Express, April 16, 2017.
 Parul Chandra, “Justin Trudeau’s India visit could bolster ties, but Canadian PM’s courting of Khalistani elements is causing bitterness”, Firstpost, February 16, 2018
 Yudhvir Rana and Vibhor Mohan, “Canada doesn’t support any separatist movement: Justin Trudeau”, Updated: February 21, 2018.
 Andrew Young, “The Cessation of Quebec and the Future of Canada”, Montreal: McGill-Queen’s Press, 1998.
 Supra Note 9.