Trudeau to get grand welcome at Golden Temple
AMRITSAR: GETTING ready for Canadian Prime Minster Justin Trudeau’s visit later this month to the Golden Temple, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) is planning to “do something different” to felicitate him. “If we get permission from the administration, we will arrange a stage in the entrance plaza outside the shrine complex to honour him as per Sikh tenets,” said Roop Singh, chief secretary of the SGPC, the apex gurdwara body which manages affairs of Sikhism’s central shrine and other historical gurdwaras in northern India.
Such arrangements are made by the SGPC on rare occasions, such as the visits of Queen Elizabeth II (1997) and the then prime minister Manmohan Singh (2004). For Canadian defence minister Harjit Singh Sajjan, who is one of the four Sikh ministers in Trudeau’s cabinet, the SGPC had set up a tent on the plaza, though its size was relatively small. “We will conduct a special meeting of officials and office-bearers to ensure proper arrangements,” said Jagjit Singh Jaggi, personal secretary to SGPC president Gobind Singh Longowal.
The likely date of Trudeau’s visit to the shrine as part of his India visit is February 21, though the final call will be taken after a team of Canadian officials visits to take stock of the arrangements by the district administration and the SGPC on Thursday.
While CM Capt Amarinder Singh is likely to accompany Trudeau, leadership of the Shiromani Akali Dal — which controls the SGPC — may also be represented, by Union minister Harsimrat Badal and her husband, SAD president Sukhbir Badal.
“Besides paying obeisance at the sanctum sanctorum, he (Trudeau) will partake langar of langar too,” said Roop Singh. Asked if the Canadian PM would be given any memorandum of demands over Sikh issue, he said, “Everybody comes to the shrine for respects, and we shouldn’t raise other issues here.”
ALSO A ‘WELCOME’ WITH KHALISTAN BANNERS
Activists of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), a group that still demands a separate Sikh nation of Khalistan, on Wednesday announced to welcome the Canadian PM with banners with prosecession slogans.
Trudeau has been allegedly soft on pro-khalistan elements in Canada, though his ministers, including Harjit Sajjan whom the CM had boycotted during his visit to native Punjab last year, have denied favouring secessionism in statement ahead of his visit.
Jarnail Singh Sakhira, general secretary of the SAD(A), said they would gather at Sri Guru Ram Das Jee International Airport here and at the Golden Temple to welcome Trudeau. “We will do so even if the administration disallows us.” The party’s supporters had “welcomed” Sajjan at the airport during his visit, and the radicals had event sought to approach him with a ‘siropa’ (robe of honour), though police foiled that.