Thursday, April 20, 2017

In photos: Canada's first Sikh defence minister returns to India

Harjit Singh Sajjan is the first Sikh to hold the top defence job in a foreign land.
And this, says Monali Sarkar, is his first official trip to the country of his birth.
Harjit Sajjan in India
Photograph: Kind courtesy @HarjitSajjan/Facebook
Harjit Sajjan began his first visit to India as Canada's minister of national defence with a stop at the Commonwealth War Cemetery in New Delhi, one of the many around the world that are dedicated to soldiers who died in the two World Wars.
Eighteen Canadians lay among the fallen at this cemetery. He said the visit was a particularly 'poignant' one.
Sajjan was born in Punjab and migrated to Canada with his family when he was 5 -- incidentally a beneficiary of the immigration reform introduced under Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's father, then PM Pierre Trudeau.
Harjit Singh Sajjan
Photograph: Press Information Bureau
He also laid a wreath at the Amar Jawan Jyoti, noting, 'India's contribution to supporting peace has come at a great cost. Paying respects to those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.'
Harjit Sajjan Guard of Honour
Photograph: Adnan Abidi/Reuters
Sajjan was accorded a guard of honour during his ceremonial reception in New Delhi.
He has served in the Canadian army's reserve force with deployments in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Afghanistan. He also became the first Sikh to command a Canadian reserve regiment.
Harjit Sajjan
Photograph: Adnan Abidi/Reuters
'India's Tri-Service Guard of Honour makes a lasting impression,' Sajjan tweeted.
Harjit Singh Sajjan and Arun Jaitley
Photograph: Kind courtesy @ArunJaitley/Facebook
A key engagement during the trip was Sajjan's meeting with his Indian counterpart Arun Jaitley. He said they had 'a great discussion… about opportunities to strengthen Canada-India defence relations.'
Harjit Sajjan
Photograph: Kind courtesy @HarjitSajjan/Facebook
On April 20, his last day in New Delhi, Sajjan met with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.
'The Canada-India bilateral relationship is strong and I look forward to further growing the ties that bind us together as two countries dedicated to peace.'
He is also scheduled to travel to Punjab and Mumbai.
Sajjan's visit to Punjab -- where he will visit his native village in Hoshiarpur, inaugurate the Canadian consulate general's new office in Chandigarh, and pay obeisance at the Golden Temple in Amritsar -- has became controversial.
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has refused to meet him, dubbing him a 'Khalistani sympathiser.'
Asked about the allegation by the Indian media, Sajjan said, 'I don't want to be sucked into the internal politics of a province of a nation. My goal is to build relationships. I am proud of the fact that I was born here.'

with thanks : rediff : LINK

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