Trudeau to get grand wel­come at Golden Temple

Hindustan Times (Bathinda) - - Htpunjab - HT Cor­re­spon­dent let­ter­schd@hin­dus­tan­ ■

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.”


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.

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