Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau has finally left India after being stuck in the country for almost two days due to a technical problem in his aircraft.
Mr Trudeau, who landed in New Delhi on 8 September for the G20 summit, was scheduled to leave on Sunday evening local time but a snag in his plane forced the prime minister to extend his stay by over 36 hours.
Earlier on Tuesday, a replacement Canadian Air Force's CC-150 Polaris aircraft was sent to pick up the prime minister but the plane was reportedly diverted to London.
Mr Trudeau was able to return as the technical issue with the stranded plane was resolved and cleared to fly, said Mohammad Hussain, press secretary of the prime minister.
The aircraft eventually took off at around 1.10pm (local time), news agency PTI reported citing sources.
Federal IT minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar was at the airport "on behalf of prime minister Narendra Modi" to see off Mr Trudeau, who left with his son and the rest of the Canadian delegation.
"I was at the airport today to thank Mr Justin Trudeau ... for his presence at the G20 Summit and wished him and his entourage a safe trip back home," the minister said in a post on X.
On behalf of PM @narendramodi Ji and my colleagues in govt, I was at the airport today to thank Mr. Justin Trudeau, Hon’ble Prime Minister of Canada @JustinTrudeau for his presence at the #G20Summit and wished him and his entourage a safe trip back home. 🇮🇳 🇨🇦 pic.twitter.com/8gEg694YCs— Rajeev Chandrasekhar 🇮🇳 (@Rajeev_GoI) September 12, 2023
The Canadian Department of National Defence in a statement to BBC earlier confirmed that the prime minister's aircraft with the tail number '01' suffered a "maintenance problem" stemming from a "component that will have to be replaced".
"The safety of all passengers is critical to the RCAF and pre-flight safety checks are a regular part of all our flight protocols," the statement added.
Mr Trudeau's departure comes after a weekend of heated diplomatic exchanges with his Indian counterpart over the rise in "anti-India activities of extremist elements" in Canada.
New Delhi has been pressing Ottawa to clamp down on the Khalistan movement, which calls for the creation of a separate Sikh nation-state, splitting away from the northern Indian state of Punjab.
“They are promoting secessionism and inciting violence against Indian diplomats, damaging diplomatic premises, and threatening the Indian community in Canada and their places of worship,” said a statement from India’s foreign ministry.
“The nexus of such forces with organized crime, drug syndicates and human trafficking should be a concern for Canada as well. It is essential for the two countries to cooperate in dealing with such threats.”
Responding to questions on Khalistani extremism in Canada, Prime Minister Trudeau said, “The actions of few do not represent the entire community or Canada”.
“Over the years, with PM Modi, we have had many conversations on both issues,” he said of Khalistani extremism and “foreign interference”.
“Canada will always defend freedom of expression, freedom of conscience, and freedom of peaceful protest and it is extremely important to us ... at the same time we are always there to prevent violence and to push back against hatred,” he said.
Mr Trudeau also faced backlash from the members of the opposition party in Canada for the plane embarrassment.
Now Trudeau gets to experience the same flight delays he has imposed on Canadians through his mismanagement of federal airports. pic.twitter.com/wng7r8oQDd— Pierre Poilievre (@PierrePoilievre) September 11, 2023
"Now Trudeau gets to experience the same flight delays he has imposed on Canadians through his mismanagement of federal airports," said Pierre Poilievre, leader of the Conservative Party.
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