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Posted at: Apr 14, 2019, 10:17 PM; last updated: Apr 15, 2019, 7:11 AM (IST)

Canada PM praises Sikhs after govt removes reference to Khalistani extremism

Canada PM praises Sikhs after govt removes reference to Khalistani extremism
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau poses for a photograph with Gurmukh Singh after marching in the Vaisakhi parade, in Vancouver, British Columbia. AP/PTI

Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 14

Eyeing the Sikh vote bank of Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has showered praises on the Canadian Sikh community and has lauded the role played by them in helping build Canada for over 120 years donning various roles as politicians, artists, and entrepreneurs.

His lionising of the Sikh community comes hours after the Canadian government agreed to remove a reference to Sikh extremism from the controversial 2018 Public Report on the Terrorism Threat to Canada.

The report had enraged the Sikh community of Canada and across the world after its release in December 2018.

It was for the first time that the any Canadian government report had dubbed Sikh radicals (or Khalistanis) based in Canada as one of the top five extremist threats existing for Canada.

After widespread protests across Canada, North America and Europe, the language of the controversial Canadian report was finally altered on Friday removing any mention of any religion instead of threat posed by “extremists who support violent means to establish an independent state within India”.

The change was widely welcomed by Sikhs based in Canada and elsewhere.

Trudeau, who was accompanied by Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, not only visited the Vancouver-based Ross Street Gurdwara—one of the largest Sikh temples in the country— but interacted with the Sikh masses and also participated in a massive parade taken out to mark the Sikh holy day of Baisakhi.

His immediate move after removal of reference of Sikhs from the report was seen as his initiative to win the bruised hearts of the Canadian Sikhs ahead of Canadian federal polls scheduled to be held on October 21.

After mingling with the members of the Sikh community and taking part in the march and the Baisakhi festivities, Trudeau praised the Sikhs for their values of social justice and equality and recalled their long association with Canada dating back to early days of 20th century.

The main objection of the Canadian Sikhs to the report was the reference about Sikhs being included in it sans any tangible evidence.

Following protests for months, Canadian Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale had came out with a clarification assuring he would ask for a review of the language used in the report.

He also admitted on Friday that entire religions should never be equated with terrorism.

“As we are celebrating Baisakhi, let us celebrate the incredible contributions of the Sikh community towards development of Canada,” said Trudeau after he walked along with members of the Sikh community in the Baisakhi parade organised by the Khalsa Diwan Society set up in 1902 and which built the first Sikh gurdwara in Canada.

‘Langars’ were part of the colourful parade as food and snacks were served to participants and passersby by the organisers.

Trudeau observed the dedication to helping others at the heart of Sikh faith were also “fundamental to who we are as a country”.

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