Tight security in Amritsar ahead of Trudeau visit
(3 months ago)
Amritsar/Chandigarh, Feb 20 : Tight security was in place in and around this holy city for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's visit to the Golden Temple complex on Wednesday.
Government security agencies and Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) officials were on Tuesday working to ensure the visit to the Sikh shrine goes without hindrance or controversy since radical Sikhs may seek to rake up the issue of a separate Sikh homeland "Khalistan".
Hundreds of personnel of Punjab Police and other security agencies were stationed at the Guru Ram Das Jee International Airport near here, and on the road from the airport to the Golden Temple complex and other areas Trudeau is expected to visit.
Trudeau, on a eight-day visit to India, will arrive in Amritsar on Wednesday from Mumbai and offer prayers at the Golden Temple or "Harmandar Sahib" -- the holiest Sikh shrine.
The visit holds political and social significance in Canada as that country has a substantial Indian diaspora, a majority of them from Punjab.
Trudeau, according to police sources, has asked local authorities to let him and his family, including three minor children, to enjoy the spirituality of the Golden Temple during the visit.
He will be received at the Golden Temple entrance by SGPC President Gobind Singh Longowal.
Radical groups like the Dal Khalsa want to raise the issue of self-determination for the Sikhs during the visit.
Amritsar Police Commissioner S.S. Srivastava said adequate security arrangements have been made for the Canadian Prime Minister's visit.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday said he will meet Trudeau during his visit to Amritsar.
Amarinder Singh tweeted that he was looking forward to "one-on-one" meeting with the Canadian leader and said he was hopeful the meeting will help strengthen close India-Canadian business ties and people-to-people relations.
There was uncertainty over Amarinder Singh's meeting with Trudeau as the former had refused to meet Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan, the first Sikh Defence Minister of a Western country, during a visit to Punjab in April last year.
Amarinder Singh had labelled Sajjan and other Canadian Ministers of Indian origin as "Khalistani sympathisers".
Sajjan and three other Canadian federal ministers of Punjab origin are travelling with Trudeau during the visit.
Dal Khalsa spokesperson Kanwar Pal Singh said his group hopes Trudeau's visit to the Golden Temple would be a "historic one" in promoting Sikh-Canadian relations.