The chief minister of India’s Punjab state, whose meeting with Justin Trudeau was one of the flashpoints of the prime minister’s trip to India, has condemned Thursday night’s explosion in a Mississauga restaurant as “cowardly” and “unpardonable.”
Fifteen people were injured after a bomb was detonated at the Mississauga location of Bombay Bhel, a family restaurant popular among the Indian community. Two suspects are still at large.
In the bombing’s aftermath, Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh released a statement saying the incident “highlighted the global dimensions of terrorism.”
Police, however, haven’t said whether the explosion is linked to terrorism. The investigation remains ongoing.
Singh said he had raised concerns about radicalism in Canada with Trudeau, stressing that he had “sought Trudeau’s co-operation [in fighting terrorism] during their talks” in February.
The statement concluded with Singh saying his government was “willing to extend all possible help to Canada to counter and battle terrorist violence.”
The media critic group “Sikhs On Media” later issued a statement saying Singh’s remarks were inappropriate because they insinuated that certain specific communities may have been to blame for the blast, in the absence of evidence.
“As there is currently no information available as to the motives behind this heinous act or who the perpetrators may be, we strongly condemn the unfounded and highly irresponsible comments made by senior Indian officials,” read the statement.
“Any insinuation that this terrible crime is linked to any specific community is baseless and highly damaging. This type of speculation or spreading of false information before a full investigation is completed, is a reprehensible attempt to take advantage of an extremely tragic situation for political purposes. It is an attempt to sow division when unity is needed.”
While Peel Regional Police have released a photo and descriptions of the two suspects in the explosion, they haven’t commented on possible motives.
WATCH: Consul General of India responds to IED blast
Immediately after the explosion, India’s external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said diplomats would “work around the clock” to assist affected people. All 15 injured in the blast hail from the Indo-Canadian community, according to Dinesh Bhatia, India’s consul-general in Toronto.
Trudeau’s office hasn’t issued an official statement on the explosion, but he tweeted about it Friday morning.
Trudeau’s meeting with Capt. Singh was among the most pointed issues to arise during the prime minister’s troubled trip.
Trudeau initially denied reports that he was going to meet Singh, who expressed interest in holding talks despite previously accusing some Liberal cabinet ministers, including Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, of being connected to pro-Khalistan separatists.
But the pair eventually met, with Singh saying he used the meeting to raise concerns about Sikh extremist elements in Canada who were financing violent attacks in India.
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