NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi looks set for a major outreach towards the powerful Sikh community in Canada and will visit a gurdwara in Vancouver during his forthcoming visit.
The gurdwara that Modi will visit is likely to be the Khalsa Diwan Gurdwara.
Canada has been witness to a fierce intra-community tussle between the moderate Sikhs in that country, who are soft on India, and the pro-Khalistani hardliners who leave no stone unturned to target India on its human rights record.
In fact, in the decade that followed Operation Bluestar in 1984, when Punjab was wracked by militancy, pro-Khalistan Sikhs in Canada were at the forefront of fund mobilisation for the Khalistan secessionist movement.
Observers feel the Modi government’s outreach towards the Sikh community in Canada will significantly strengthen the moderates and will also seek to re-assure the Sikh community abroad that India will always stand with it to protect its interests.
Hate-crimes against Sikhs have occurred frequently in the West in the years following 9/11, something which India has often taken up strongly with the concerned governments.
The Prime Minister will visit Canada from April 14-16 on the third and final leg of his forthcoming foreign tour after visiting France and Germany.
He is also expected to visit a Hindu temple in Canada, which could be the Laxmi Narayan Temple in Surrey.
Apart from the capital city of Ottawa, the Prime Minister will also travel to Toronto where a New York Madison Square-like event is planned by the Indian diaspora at the Ricoh Coliseum in the city.
The Madison Square event during Modi’s US visit last September had been a huge success and the Indian diaspora in Canada is aiming to make it a bigger event than the one in New York.
Modi’s foreign visit starts on April 9 and he will hold talks with French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper during his eight-day tour, which is part of India’s “Link-West” policy.
Next month, Modi will visit China. He is also likely to visit Mongolia and South Korea after that as part of India’s “Act East” policy.
During his visit to China, Prime Minister Modi is likely to visit Xian, which is the hometown of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
It may be recalled that when President Xi had visited India last year, he had visited Modi’s home state of Gujarat first before arriving in New Delhi. – By Sridhar Kumaraswami From Asian Age