Justin Trudeau prepares to meet Indian politicians linked to hardline Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh

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      Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is doing a delicate dance on his weeklong trip to India. 

      He must be seen to be showing respect to Muslim and Sikh constituents at home while trying to secure business deals with corporations in a country ruled by hardline Hindu fundamentalists.

      Trudeau has tried to soften the potential domestic political impact of some of those business meetings by starting his trip with a visit to the Taj Mahal in the city of Agra.

      The white mausoleum was commissioned by Mogal emperor Shah Jahan as a tribute to his wife Mumtaz.

      Without doubt, it's one of the world's most spectacular mosques and images of the Trudeaus there are being beamed around the world.

      For a politician with a significant number of Muslims in his Montreal constituency of Papineau, it's political gold.

      On Monday, the Trudeaus will spend most of their day in the state of Gujarat, arriving in Ahmedabad in the morning, visiting an ashram and a Hindu temple before a late-afternoon meeting with Chief Minister Vijay Rupani.

      Rupani has been a long-time activist and functionary with the Hindu nationalist party that rules India, the Bharatiya Janata Party. Even though he's from the minority Jain community, he has been associated with the militantly pro-Hindu Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sankh (RSS).

      The RSS is a 93-year-old paramilitary organization that drew its inspiration from fascist groups in Europe in promoting its right-wing Hindutva ideology.

      It's widely loathed by Muslims and those who dream of a secular India.

      On Tuesday (February 19), Trudeau will be camped out at India's swankiest hotel, the Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai, to meet with the heads of some of India's biggest companies, Bollywood "influencers", and the chief minister of the state of Maharashtra, Devendra Fadnavis.

      Fadnavis is another RSS boy, as is India's prime minister, Narendra Modi.

      The following day, Trudeau will take a side trip to Amritsar, where he'll do doubt visit the Golden Temple Complex, which is holiest Sikh shrine in the world.

      This will provide plenty of images for the Canadian media and perhaps help Trudeau blunt the looming challenge to his rule posed by NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, a baptized Sikh.

      Then Trudeau will be in New Delhi to meet Modi and Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj.

      Modi is seen as no friend to many progressive Sikhs in Canada. That's because Modi's ties to the RSS make him suspect.

      So it's unlikely that Trudeau's tete-a-tete with the Indian prime minister will receive nearly as much play at home as the trip to the Golden Temple

      Narenda Modi pays respects to Hindu writer and political activist Veer Savarkar, whose disciples included the assassin of Mahatma Gandhi.

      Not long after India became independent in 1947, the RSS was banned.

      This occurred when a former RSS man from Pune, Nathuram Godse, assassinated Mahatma Gandhi for promoting an India that welcomed people of all faiths.

      Since Modi became prime minister, there have been efforts by Hindu extremists to honour Godse with statues. One BJP legislator even called Godse a patriot before retracting this statement.

      That resulted in an editorial in the Hindustan Times urging the Modi government to stop celebrations of the assassin.

      Since then, the chief minister of Maharashtra, Fadenavis, and others with ties to the RSS have publicly opposed paying respects to Godse through statues and other means.

      But that has not mollified secularists in India, who worry that anyone connected to the RSS is apt to see India as a Hindu nation rather than a country that treats everyone, regardless of their religion, on an equal footing.

      In recent years, the RSS has also been linked to various acts of violence.

      The organization was banned in the early 1990s for its involvement in the demolition of an historic mosque in Ayodhya. That led to communal riots in other areas of India.

      More than a decade later, Human Rights Watch maintained that it and other Hindu groups played a role in large-scale attacks on Muslims in Gujarat in 2002. Modi was chief minister of that state at the time.

      This carnage followed a train fire that killed 59 people. including many Hindu pilgrims, returning from a religious ceremony in Ayodhya. The RSS denied its involvement.

      The violence in Gujarat convinced the U.S. government not to issue a visitor's visa to Modi, though the travel ban was lifted after he became prime minister in 2014.

      Christian groups have also accused the RSS of targeting them.

      Some of the most serious allegations have been against high-profile former RSS activist Swami Aseemanand. He's been accused of planning the bombings onboard the Samjhuta Express train that runs between India and Pakistan, a claim he denies.

      The attack took place on February 18, 2007, killing 68 people, mostly Pakistani civilians.

      In the meantime, Aseemanand has been photographed with Modi, which created a stir among secularists inside India.

      Today in the Vancouver suburb of Surrey, Indians Abroad for Pluralist India will hold a rally to commemorate victims of the Samjhuta Express bombings.

      It will take place in Holland Park at 5 p.m.

      IAPI sees the train bombings as an attack on secularism by Hindu extremists even though the Indian constitution guarantees equality for all, regardless of their religion.

      In a similar vein, IAPI organized a rally last weekend in the same location to draw attention to the conduct of former Indian home minister Jagdish Tytler and other Congress leaders who've been linked to the slaughter of thousands of Sikhs in India in 1984.

      Gurpreet Singh

      Tytler has recently admitted that he travelled around Delhi with then Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in a vehicle taking stock of the situation. 

      Tytler has also allegedly been featured in a video clip, conducted through a media sting, acknowledging the killings of 100 Sikhs. Tytler has denied the validity of the media clip.

      At the rally in Surrey, several speakers called for legal action against Tytler and for Rajiv Gandhi to be stripped of the Bharat Ratna, which is India's highest civilian award.