KHALISTAN: PM Stephen Harper says he won’t ‘interfere’ with political rights of Canadian Sikh separatists

Published: November 8, 2012

Prime Minister Stephen Harper visits the Sikh temple of Sri Keshgarh Sahib Gurdwara in Anandpur Sahib, India on Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012. Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

MARK KENNEDY
POSTMEDIA NEWS

BANGALORE, India — Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Thursday he won’t “interfere” with the political rights of Canadian Sikhs who advocate a separate state in India — even though his government firmly opposes the idea.

However, Harper indicated the Conservative government would take action if it detects that those Sikhs turn to violence to advance their cause.

At a news conference as he neared the end of his visit to India, Harper was asked if he thinks Sikh extremism is a problem in Canada and, if so, what he is doing to stop it.

The question came after Harper was dogged by the politically sensitive issue during his trip because senior leaders in the India government called on him to quell the rise of “anti-India rhetoric” in Canada.

They were referring to a small group of Sikhs who are advocating the creation of a separate state — Khalistan — in India.

“The government is completely supportive of the unity of India,” said Harper. “The government of Canada and I believe the vast majority of Canadian people, including the vast majority of Indo-Canadians, have no desire to see the revival of old hostilities in this great country, here in India.”

Harper added that his government monitors “extreme developments — those who may embrace violence or threats of violence or terrorism.”

“We watch these things very closely and we work very closely with our partners in the government of India.”

However, the prime minister said “that obviously cannot be confused with peoples’ right in Canada to advocate a political position.”

“It may be a political position that both the government of Canada and the government of India disagree with. We can’t interfere with the right of political freedom of expression.”

Harper has walked a tightrope during the trip — declaring earlier this week that Canada stands for a “united India,” but also visiting a cherished Sikh temple in the Punjab region to pay his respects to Indians of that faith.

After visiting the temple on Wednesday, Harper brushed aside questions from Canadian journalists about whether there is Sikh extremism in Canada, merely saying the Indian government “knows our position.”

On Thursday morning, an Indian newspaper, the Tribune, reported that Harper had said at one point during his Punjabi visit: “We are committed not to permit any secessionist activities on our soil.”

Harper’s aides denied the report Thursday, and insisted he did not say those words.

Later in the day, when questioned at the news conference, Harper appeared keen to clarify where he stands.

During his trip, Harper met many of the Indian government’s leaders, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Singh said the countries “have similar concerns in combating terrorism, extremism and radicalism.”

Preneet Kaur, the country’s minister of state for external affairs, complained about the “revival of anti-India rhetoric in Canada.”


PM Stephen Harper in India


Picture 5 of 6

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper inspects the Honour Guard as he arrives at Rashtrapati Bhavan (Presidential Palace) for the official welcoming ceremony in New Dehli, India on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press


Tags: , ,





Featured

india

Indian minister refers to Dec. 16 fatal gang rape as “small incident” that hurt tourism

IANS New Delhi  – An Indian minister is embroiled in controversy after he referred to Delhi’s fatal Dec. 16 gang rape as a “small incident”…
Continue Reading »

Abraham Azhakathu

Travel request from Alberta priest accused of sexual assault rejected

THE CANADIAN PRESS PEACE RIVER, Alta. — A Catholic priest in northwestern Alberta who is accused of sexually assaulting a minor has been told he…
Continue Reading »

T-shirts hang in the window of a Gap clothing store on July 10, 2013 in San Francisco, California. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

U.S. clothing retailer Gap to enter Indian market

IANS Mumbai — India’s textile major Arvind’s Lifestyle Brands has teamed up with the U.S. iconic retailer Gap Inc. to franchise its apparel in some…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

Abraham Azhakathu

Travel request from Alberta priest accused of sexual assault rejected

THE CANADIAN PRESS PEACE RIVER, Alta. — A Catholic priest in northwestern Alberta who is accused of sexually assaulting a minor has been told he…
Continue Reading »

Today in History – Sept. 5

Advance THE CANADIAN PRESS Today in History for Sept. 5: On this date: In 1534, Jacques Cartier arrived in France after his first voyage to…
Continue Reading »

Today in History – Sept. 1

Advance THE CANADIAN PRESS Today in History for Sept. 1: On this date: In 1159, the only English pope in history, Adrian (or Hadrian) IV,…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

Const. Ian MacDonald says: ‘You don’t want to see anybody carted away in an ambulance over this, and that is a very real possibility. Ric Ernst/PNG

‘It’s pride getting in the way’: Feuding Indo-Canadian youth factions worry Abbotsford cops (w/ video)

JENNIFER SALTMAN  VANCOUVER DESI  No one really knows how the conflict started. According to a number of people who are involved, in February one person…
Continue Reading »

Stone-health-Kaleem

Eight-year-old Indian boy’s swollen hands are larger than his head

VANCOUVER DESI Kaleem, an eight-year-old Indian boy suffering from a mystery condition has puzzled doctors after his hands swelled to giant proportions and are larger…
Continue Reading »

India-surgery

Doctors remove unborn child’s skeleton from woman’s womb after 36 years

VANCOUVER DESI In an unusual surgery, doctors in India removed the skeleton of an unborn baby from its mother’s womb after 36 years, the Press…
Continue Reading »

Sikh-Ontario

Turbaned Sikhs will not be allowed to ride motorbike without a helmet in Ontario

THE CANADIAN PRESS TORONTO — Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne says she won’t allow for turban-wearing Sikhs to ride a motorcycle without wearing a helmet. In…
Continue Reading »

Annu Gaidhu

Mississauga beauty Annu Gaidhu crowned Miss India Canada (w/gallery)

VANCOUVER DESI Mississauga’s Annu Gaidhu was crowned Miss India-Canada at the 24th annual pageant in Toronto Saturday evening. The 23-year-old yoga instructor and aspiring child…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Indian comedy actor  Kapil Sharma and Sumona Chakravarti pose during a press conference to promote 'Comedy Nights with Kapil'. NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images

Kapil Sharma onto new ventures, including Comedy Nights tour that will reach Canada

IANS Mumbai  – Popular stand-up comedian Kapil Sharma, who is set to make his Bollywood debut with director duo Abbas-Mustan’s untitled film, is looking forward…
Continue Reading »

desi boobs-actress-celebrity

Bollywood actress from Britain still finds time to help her parents at their corner shop (w/gallery)

VANCOUVER DESI British actress Geeta Basra, who made a name for herself in Bollywood with three major films, still helps her parents at their local…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood stunt man

Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar takes up the ALS ice bucket challenge

VANCOUVER DESI Bollywood action hero Akshay Kumar took on the ALS ice bucket challenge in true stuntman style – with 11 buckets of ice water….
Continue Reading »