Amritsar:Canada’s Indian-origin Defence Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan on Thursday paid obeisance at the Golden Temple here and was presented with a robe of honour. He reached the Sikh shrine shortly after 6 am and spent around 15 minutes inside the sanctum sanctorum of the temple.
SGPC president Kripal Singh Badungar was also present at the temple when the minister reached there.
Some people raised pro-Khalistan slogans and displayed placards when the Sajjan reached there.
The Canadian Defence Minister is a Sikh whose native village Bambeli falls in Hoshiarpur district. He had reached Amritsar from Delhi on Wednesday evening.
Attired in a grey turban, a white shirt and a pair of grey trousers, Sajjan took a ‘parikrama’ (walk around the sanctum sanctorum) before listening to the ‘kirtan’ (prayers) at the Golden Temple.
Sajjan offered ‘parsad’ at the shrine. He was honoured with a ‘siropa’ (robe of honour) by the SGPC and was presented a replica of the Golden Temple, a sword and a set of religious books.
Ahead of the Canadian Defence minister’s visit, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh had said he would not meet Sajjan and described him as a “Khalistani sympathiser”.
Sajjan, however, rubbished Amarinder’s allegation that he is “pro-Khalistani” and said he would not get into any petty politics with the Congress leader.
The India-born Canadian minister also down played the Ontario legislative assembly recently passing a motion describing the 1984 anti-Sikh riots as “genocide” in India. However, the Aam Aadmi Party welcomed Sajjan to Punjab and slammed Amarinder for his stand on the issue.
Asked why Sajjan, the first Sikh to become the Defence Minister of a western nation, was being cold shouldered by the Punjab government, state minister Brahm Mohindra said, “He has come here, it is his birth place and he has gone to his village. I do not want to say anything more. Our leader Amarinder Singh was stopped when he wanted to go there (to Canada last year ahead of Punjab polls), how can we welcome him?”
Meanwhile, Sajjan also visited the All India Pingalwara Charitable Society, on the outskirts of the city, where he met under privileged and specially-abled children and interacted with them for nearly 40 minutes.
“We are honoured to have him among us. It is a matter of great pride for us and he spoke to children at length,” Inderjit Kaur, the patron-president of the society said.