We stand for united In­dia, says Canada oppn leader Scheer

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - - CORPORATE BUZZ - Anirudh Bhat­tacharyya let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com Agence France­presse let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

TORONTO: Canada’s op­po­si­tion Con­ser­va­tive Party leader An­drew Scheer has said he stands for a “united In­dia” and won’t have com­mon ground with those who ad­vo­cate for “vi­o­lence” or “di­vi­sion” in the con­text of the Khal­is­tan move­ment.

Scheer made these com­ments in an in­ter­view as he com­pleted a week-long visit to In­dia, where he met, among oth­ers, Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi.

Asked about con­ver­sa­tions he had with In­dian lead­ers dur­ing the visit, par­tic­u­larly given the con­cern that Canada is be­com­ing a stag­ing ground for resur­gence of the Khal­is­tan move­ment, Scheer said he had re­as­sured them that “in our party, we don’t sup­port those who are ad­vo­cat­ing for some type of di­vi­sion like that”.

“We stand for a united In­dia,” he said, adding his party could pro­vide the po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship to­wards “en­sur­ing that we build com­mon ground with those who are fo­cused on mak­ing Canada a bet­ter place...and not those who are try­ing to in any way ad­vo­cate for any type of vi­o­lence”.

How­ever, he cau­tioned against paint­ing an “en­tire com­mu­nity with a broad brush” since only a “small num­ber” were ad­vo­cat­ing sep­a­ratism. “We recog­nise and ap­pre­ci­ate the con­tri­bu­tions of those of the Sikh faith who have con­trib­uted so much to our so­ci­ety,” he said.

Scheer re­ceived an un­usu­ally warm re­cep­tion in In­dia. De­spite be­ing an op­po­si­tion leader and not a head of govern­ment or state, he met Modi, fi­nance min­is­ter Arun Jait­ley, ex­ter­nal af­fairs min­is­ter Sushma Swaraj, home min­is­ter Ra­j­nath Singh and min­is­ter of state Hardeep Puri, among oth­ers. He also met Pun­jab chief min­is­ter Amarinder Singh as he trav­elled to Chandi­garh and Am­rit­sar. The wel­come was in marked con­trast to the frigid state of re­la­tions be­tween In­dia and the Justin Trudeau govern­ment in Ot­tawa. Scheer said he was “hon­oured” to meet Modi. “The con­ver­sa­tion was a lengthy one, he was very gen­er­ous with his time,” he said. MEX­ICO BEACH (UNITED STATES): The death toll from Hur­ri­cane Michael has risen to at least 17 with fears it would con­tinue to climb Satur­day as search-and-res­cue teams scour the de­bris of the Florida town that bore the brunt of the mon­ster storm.

“Mex­ico Beach is dev­as­tated,” Florida Gov­er­nor Rick Scott said of the town where Michael made land­fall as a Cat­e­gory 4 storm on Wed­nes­day. “It’s like a bomb went off,” Scott said as he toured the town of 1,000 peo­ple on the Gulf of Mex­ico.

Res­cue teams were us­ing snif­fer dogs in Mex­ico Beach on Fri­day to search for vic­tims who may be buried un­der the rub­ble in the de­bris-strewn com­mu­nity.

Brock Long, head of the Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency (FEMA), warned that he ex­pected the toll to rise.

“I hope we don’t see it climb dra­mat­i­cally but I have rea­sons to be­lieve we still haven’t got into some of the hard­est hit ar­eas,” he said.

Dozens of struc­tures in Mex­ico Beach — homes, shops and restau­rants — were lifted off their foun­da­tions by storm surge and 155 miles per hour (250 kph) winds and moved hun­dreds of feet in­land or smashed to bits.

“Very few peo­ple live to tell what it’s like to ex­pe­ri­ence storm surge,” Long said. “Storm surge causes the most amount of loss of life.”

State of­fi­cials said Mex­ico Beach was un­der manda­tory evac­u­a­tion or­ders but some res­i­dents de­cided to stay and try to ride out the storm. “You hope that some­how at the last minute a bunch of peo­ple got up and left or went some­where else,” Florida Sen­a­tor Marco Ru­bio told CNN.

BLOOMBERG

De­bris and rub­ble are seen on a street af­ter Hur­ri­cane Michael hit Mex­ico Beach, Florida.

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