April 22, 2016 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
Toronto: Punjab Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh has reportedly cancelled his political rallies in Toronto and Vancouver. The move came in wake of an advisory issued by the Canadian foreign ministry.
Capt. Amarinder, who is on a political tour to USA and Canada, was set to hold political shows in Canada. A human rights group, Sikhs For Justice, was making efforts to block Capt. Amarinder’s bid to hold public functions in Canada.
SFJ has raised the matter with the Foreign ministry of Canada after which the representatives of Canadian government reportedly took up the matter with the authorities in Indian High Commission.
Toronto-based law firm Goldblatt Partners, on behalf of the SFJ, has sent a memorandum to foreign minister Stephane Dion, claiming Amarinder Singh’s visit will violate a circular issued in September 2011 wherein the department stated it will “not allow foreign governments to conduct election campaigns in Canada or establish foreign political parties or movements in Canada”.
Indian foreign secretary S Jaishankar reportedly told Capt. Amarinder on telephone that the Canadian rules prevented foreign governments and individuals from doing election campaigning in Canada.
Amarpreet Aulakh, president of the Indian Overseas Congress Canada East, said these are “private” events and not open to the public. “This is an outreach programme for Amarinder to put forward his point to NRIs before the Punjab polls,” he said.
In a statement, its legal adviser Gurpatwant Pannun said the group will launch a private criminal prosecution against Amarinder if he comes to Canada, on the grounds that during his tenure as chief minister, he appointed or reinstated officials allegedly involved in torture or extra-judicial killings in Punjab.
“The Canadian Constitution promotes human rights and does not condone the acts of those who participate or protect violators,” Pannun said. The threat of a similar suit in 2013 had prompted Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal to cancel his trip to Canada.
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