New Delhi: A Khalistani terrorist was invited to two official events for Justin Trudeau in Mumbai and Delhi, in a major diplomatic snafu amid talk of a frosty reception for the visiting Canadian Prime Minister in India.
Jaspal Atwal was convicted of the attempted murder of a Punjab minister in 1986 and sentenced to 20 years in jail. The Canadian Embassy has withdrawn Atwal’s invitation to a dinner in Delhi tonight after media reports.
“The High Commission has rescinded Mr. Atwal’s invitation. We do not comment on matters relating to the PM’s security,” the Canadian Embassy said in a statement.
In a huge embarrassment for Canada, Atwal was photographed with the Prime Minister’s wife Sophie Trudeau and Canadian minister Amarjeet Sohi at the Mumbai event on Tuesday.
Atwal was a Sikh separatist active in the banned International Sikh Youth Federation when he was convicted of the attempted murder of Punjab minister, Malkiat Singh Sidhu, on Vancouver Island in 1986. He was one of four men found guilty of trying to kill the minister, who was on a private visit, on an isolated road.
It is not yet clear how Atwal got an Indian Visa and why he was cleared to attend official events in India. The matter came to light after the Toronto Sun accessed pictures of Atwal and Trudeau’s wife at an event in Mumbai on Tuesday. Unidentified officials told the daily that Atwal could be a part of Trudeau’s official delegation in India. However, the prime minister’s office did not confirm it.
The dinner was supposed to be held on Thursday at the Canadian high commissioner’s house in New Delhi. “His Excellency Nadir Patel, High Commissioner for Canada to India, is pleased to invite Jaspal Atwal to a dinner reception celebrating Canada-India ties on the occasion of the visit of The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada,” the invitation read.
Many observers have speculated that Trudeau did not receive due welcome on his trip to India because of his alleged support for Sikh separatist Khalistani groups in his country. In April 2017, Trudeau attended a pro-Khalistan parade that featured shrines dedicated to Sikh militants.