Canada 'committed' to curb Sikh separatism


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TORONTO: Canada has said it is committed to curb activities of Sikh separatists in the country who are trying to revive militancy in Punjab.

"Canada has unshakeable commitment to India's sovereignty,unity and integrity," Deepak Obhrai, Parliamentary Secretary to Canadian Minister for Foreign Affairs told House of Commons on Monday.

"The Government of Canada and Canadians stand strongly behind efforts to strengthen our relationship with India and in no way will accept, support or encourage any efforts that undermine a strong, united and multicultural India," Obhrai told Parliament while making a statement on behalf of the Canadian government.

Stating that the Canadian government had strongly condemned the recent threats of violence made by extremists within the Canadian Sikh community, Obhrai added, "This is unacceptable."

Recently, India's High Commissioner to Canada S M Gavai raised the issue of rising activities of Sikh separatist Khalistan movement in Canada with the Canadian government.

Canada is one of the few countries, according to the Indian government, where pro-Khalistani elements are becoming active once again.

India is also concerned at attempts by some elements to de-list banned organisations such as the Babbar Khalsa in Canada.

Canadian government's statement is of great significance in the wake of recent concerns expressed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper over growing support by Canadian Sikhs for militants in Punjab.

Similar views were echoed by Ujjal Dosanjh, Liberal MP and former British Columbia premier, who said Sikh extremism, was on the rise in some parts of the country and nothing was being done about it.

Dosanjh is also facing threats to his life. Obhrai said: "Canada-India ties continue to strengthen following the very successful visit to India by a strong delegation led by Prime Minister Harper last November.

Canada is home to a large Indo-Canadian community. Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian, Buddhist and Jains, all contribute immensely to further this relationship."