Amid diplomatic row, Canada PM Trudeau extends Navratri wishes

Softening his tone while asserting that his government was committed to building closer ties with India, after claiming that Indian agents were behind the killing of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sunday extended his wishes to the Hindu community on the occasion of the Navratras.

An official press statement released by the Canadian PM said that over the next nine nights and 10 days, members of the Hindu community in Canada and around the world will gather to celebrate Navratri.

"Navratri is one of the most important and sacred festivals in the Hindu faith, commemorating the victory of the goddess Durga over the buffalo-headed demon Mahishasura and the triumph of good over evil. Often seen as a celebration of feminine energy, it is a time for friends and family to come together and honour century-old traditions with prayers, joyous performances, special meals, and fireworks," the statement quoted the Canadian PM as saying further.

He also termed the festival as a chance to grab knowledge about the culture of Hindu communities and an occasion to recognise their contributions to Canada.

"For all Canadians, Navratri also offers an opportunity to learn more about the rich history and culture of Hindu communities and to recognize their invaluable contributions to Canada's social, cultural, and economic fabric. Today's celebrations remind us that diversity is one of Canada's greatest strengths," he said.

"On behalf of my family and the Government of Canada, I extend my best wishes to everyone celebrating Navratri this year," the statement quoted him as saying further.

Earlier, expressing deep concerns over recent statements of designated terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun allegedly endorsing Hamas and issuing threats against Indian Consulates in G7 nations, including Canada, the Hindu community "implored" the Trudeau government to take immediate action against the Khalistani leader.

In an urgent email addressed to Canada's Minister of Public Safety Dominic LeBlanc, the Hindu Forum of Canada (HFC) called for immediate action against Pannun.

"On October 21st, from G7 Nations, from Canada to Australia, Sikhs for Justice is going to shut down terror houses of India in Vancouver, Washington DC, London, Frankfurt, and Milan. The People of Palestine shut down the Indian terror house in Ramallah and removed Renu Yadav (India's first woman envoy to Palestine)," Pannun said.

"Such statements must not be tolerated. We implore the government of Canada to take immediate action, as we are deeply concerned about the safety of our community. This kind of hateful video and speech is exacerbating hatred and violence," the HFC said in a statement.

Last month, addressing the Canadian Parliament, PM Trudeau claimed that his government had reasons to believe that Indian agents were involved in the killing of the Khalistani leader Nijjar.

India outrightly rejected the claims, calling them 'absurd' and 'motivated'.

"We have seen and reject the statement of the Canadian Prime Minister in their Parliament, as also the statement by their Foreign Minister. Allegations of Government of India's involvement in any act of violence in Canada are absurd and motivated...We are a democratic polity with a strong commitment to rule of law," the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.

Nijjar, a designated terrorist in India, was killed outside a gurdwara in Canada's Surrey on June 18.

Significantly, Canada is yet to provide any evidence to support its claim of an Indian hand in the killing of Hardeep Nijjar.

Signalling a further souring of bilateral ties, Ottawa and New Delhi announced tit-for-tat expulsions of diplomats in the wake of Trudeau's allegation of Indian involvement in Nijjar's killing.

India also suspended visa services for Canadian citizens amid the festering diplomatic fallout of Trudeau's charge.

Weighing in on the diplomatic fallout of Trudeau's claim, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said the Canadian attitude towards terrorists, extremist people who openly advocate violence is "very permissive".


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