Trudeau Gets A Well-Deserved Rap On The Knuckles – Free Press Journal

Canadian premier Justin Trudeau’s red-face moments at the G20 summit left his detractors tickled pink, and provided a cartload of meme fodder. But for India, it’s no laughing matter. Canada’s indirect interference in India’s internal affairs, by providing space for separatists and terrorists, have goaded the government beyond endurance.

The Trudeau dispensation – which includes alleged Khalistan sympathiser Jagmeet Singh – has consistently overlooked the nexus between Khalistani forces and Canada-based crime syndicates involved in violent crimes in Punjab and elsewhere. For example, fugitive gangster Goldy Brar of the Lawrence Bishnoi gang is wanted in celebrity rapper Sidhu Moosewala’s murder, and has openly threatened to eliminate superstar Salman Khan.

Anti-India and pro-Khalistan demonstrations in Canada are par for the course, as are threats of violence against Indian diplomats and vandalising of Hindu temples. Earlier this year, the public re-enactment of Indira Gandhi’s assassination horrified the Indian community in Brampton, Canada. Last fortnight, Canadian authorities granted permission for yet another ‘referendum on Khalistan’, publicised through posters featuring AK-47s. Fortunately, the permission was revoked under pressure from citizens’ groups.

Putting a head of state on the mat rather than the red carpet is a weighty decision, but Trudeau left India with no option. In justifying terrorist propaganda and advocacy of violence as ‘freedom of expression’, he essentially dismissed India’s concerns. In fact, his government sought to put the boot on the other foot, by accusing India of being a source of ‘foreign interference’ in Canada! Small wonder Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave him a rap on the knuckles.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has repeatedly put in requests for the extradition of pro-Khalistan individuals believed to be fomenting terrorist activities in India to the Canadian authorities, but with no success. The UK and US have also been uncooperative. Known radicals who reside in these countries operate with impunity. For example, Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, the chief of the extremist organisation Sikhs For Justice which is very active in Canada, is based in the US.

Covert support to insurrections on foreign soil by intelligence agencies is an age-old tactic. What’s peculiar about Trudeau’s soft approach to Sikh extremism is that it does not in any way serve Canada’s strategic interests. It certainly serves Trudeau’s political agenda, in that his government is dependent on the support of Singh’s New Democratic Party. But as the Canadian media has pointed out, that could prove detrimental to the country’s economic interests.

For example, during his 2018 tour of India, Trudeau was expected to lobby for increased exports of yellow peas from Canada to India — a trade valued at a billion dollars. But he blotted his copybook by inviting a former Khalistani terrorist — Jaspal Atwal, settled in Canada – to an official reception. Shortly thereafter, India imposed a three-month ban on the import of yellow peas!

Trudeau’s approval ratings have plummeted, nowhere more sharply than in Saskatchewan province, the largest exporter of yellow peas of which India is the biggest buyer (after the US). The Saskatchewan government is understandably incensed with Trudeau’s faux pas in India and castigated him earlier this week, saying, “Clearly, what your government has done has put the already strained Canada-India relationship in even further peril after some improvement following the prime minister’s disastrous trip to India in 2018.”

To make matters worse, the Trudeau government suddenly hit pause on trade negotiations with India. A big surprise, as both sides had agreed to ink a trade pact by the end of 2023. The Canadian media has accused Trudeau of prioritising domestic politics over his country’s economic interests. One news portal ran the headline ‘Co-captains Trudeau and Singh running Canada into the ground’ and pointed out that instead of drumming up trade at the G20, Trudeau chose to annoy PM Modi by complaining of ‘foreign interference’ in Canada’s affairs! Naturally, he was denied a bilateral meeting.

If, as the Financial Post report claims, “a majority want Trudeau and his governing sidekick, Jagmeet Singh, out of office”, the PM may want to rethink his stance vis-a-vis extremism. It may be recalled that his late father and Canadian premier Pierre Trudeau had refused to accept Indira Gandhi’s request for the extradition of terrorist Talwinder Singh Parmar to India. Parmar went on to mastermind the bombing of the Air India ‘Kanishk’ flight 182 in 1985, in which 329 people died.

A 2005 article in the Canadian paper The Globe and Mail recalled the incident. It said that while the Indian government was cracking down on extremists, “Canada had become the terrorists’ main foreign base of support. It was a safe haven for thousands of militants…One was a notorious character named Talwinder Singh Parmar, leader of the militant Babbar Khalsa…The Indian government wanted to extradite him, but the Canadian government, on a silly technicality, refused.”

It went on to warn that in a globalised world, all terrorism is local. A sentiment that India’s Ministry of External Affairs echoed last week in saying, “The nexus of such forces with organised crime, drug syndicates and human trafficking should be a concern for Canada as well.”

One can be pardoned for feeling that karma caught up with Trudeau at Delhi airport, where he was stranded for 36 hours after his plane developed a snag. He was the last of the G20 leaders to leave India, and the only one who had no reason to smile.

Bhavdeep Kang is a senior journalist with 35 years of experience in working with major newspapers and magazines. She is now an independent writer and author .

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Published on: Thursday, September 14, 2023, 06:00 AM IST

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