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Justin Trudeau in India: Canadian PM visits Golden Temple, holds one-to-one meet with Amarinder Singh in Amritsar

With a saffron-coloured cloth covering his head, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday offered prayers at the Golden Temple in Amritsar, where he was presented with a traditional robe of honour.

He also had a meeting with Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh on Wednesday. Both leaders discussed the strong bond that exists between Punjab and Canada, largely due to an influential Punjabi community settled in the western nation.

The Canadian prime minister is on a week-long visit to India. Trudeau is accompanied by wife and three children – Ella-Grace, Xavier and Hadrien.

'Honoured to visit Golden Temple'

Dressed in a white kurta-pyjama, Trudeau prayed at the sanctum sanctorum of the Golden Temple during an almost hour-long visit to the shrine. Trudeau was accompanied by his wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, and two of his three children, who were also clad in traditional Punjabi outfits.

The prime minister and his family also tried rolling out rotis at the Guru Ram Das Jee Langar hall, where devotees do voluntary kitchen work for feeding visitors.

They greeted devotees with folded hands while scores of visitors could be seen holding up their mobile phones to take pictures and videos of the Trudeaus.

Punjab police officials and SGPC task force 'sewadars' (volunteers) formed a security ring around the dignitaries. Canadian security officials were also part of their security cover.

Trudeau, along with a delegation of his ministers and MPs, reached the Golden Temple straight from the Amritsar international airport at around 11:55 am. A red-coloured carpet was laid out for the dignitaries by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee at the Golden temple complex.

Trudeau and his family took a round or 'parikrama' of the Temple. The prime minister and his family were given a 'siropa' (robe of honour) inside the shrine. Among those accompanying the Canadian prime minister was his defence minister Harjit Sajjan.

Union minister of state (Independent Charge) for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri and Punjab Cultural Affairs and Tourism minister Navjot Singh Sidhu also accompanied him at the Golden Temple. Later, Trudeau also visited the Partition Museum in the city.

Puri and Sidhu had received the Canadian prime minister and his delegation at the Sri Guru Ramdas International Airport at around 10:40 am.

Amritsar Commissioner of Police SS Srivastva and Deputy Commissioner Kamaldeep Singh Sangha were also present at the airport, officials said.

Shiromani Akali Dal Chief Sukhbir Singh Badal and Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee president Gobind Singh Longowal welcomed the visiting prime minister at the Golden Temple.

Tight security arrangements have been put into effect by the Punjab police in Amritsar with over 1,500 police personnel deployed in the holy city for the visit. Senior police officials including SSPs and DIGs, besides a SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) team, have also been deployed.

His visit to Punjab had triggered a controversy over reported links between key members of his cabinet and Sikh separatists. Speculation on whether he would meet Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh was put to rest when it was announced that the two would hold a meeting.

'Very impressed with Trudeau'

Trudeau met Amarinder for a one-on-one meeting at a local hotel in Amritsar. The two discussed business as well as people-to-people ties.

Speaking to ANI after a 30-minute long one-to-one with Justin Trudeau, Amarinder Singh said that he was very impressed with the Canadian prime minister. He said that a range of issues and proposals were discussed, including investment prospects in the service sector, dairy farming, agriculture and trade with the state of Punjab.

"He is very sincere and willing to work alongside Punjab. I hope he will take our talks forward," Singh said.

"I also raised the issue of Khalistan as it's the primary issue, as there is money coming in from various countries including Canada that then helps create unrest in Punjab," Singh said, according to ANI.

'I also handed over a list of people in Canada that we think are involved in spreading ruckus in Punjab to Trudeau', he added.

Besides the Trudeau-Amarinder meeting, which remained uncertain till Monday evening, the other highlight was the chief minister meeting Canadian defence minister Harjit Singh Sajjan, who was born in Punjab's Hoshiarpur district and is the first Sikh to handle the defence portfolio of a western country.

Amarinder had refused to meet the Canadian Defence Minister in April 2017 during the latter's visit to the state and even dubbed him and other ministers of Punjab-origin in the Trudeau government as "Khalistani sympathisers".

On Wednesday, the chief minister not only met Sajjan but also shook hands with him and both leaders smiled at each other.

With inputs from agencies.

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Updated Date: Feb 21, 2018 17:35:13 IST

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