Rejecting Canada’s defence of Harjit Singh Sajjan, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday said he stood by his principled stand of not associating himself with any `Khalistani sympathizer.”Even as he lashed out at critics, within India, of his `Khalistani sympathizer’ remarks against the Canadian Defence Minister, Captain Amarinder reiterated that Sajjan, and several other ministers and top leaders in Canada, were sympathizing 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 sympathizers.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 sympathizer, just as his father Kundan Sajjan, a board member of the World Sikh Organization, was. The state government would provide full 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 sympathizer, said Captain 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, said Captain Amarinder.Captain 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.
Captain 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 sympathizers on the country, particularly on Punjab,” said Captain Amarinder, reacting 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, said Captain Amarinder.
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 the 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, Captain 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.Captain 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.