A Khalistani terrorist was invited to two official events for Justin Trudeau in Mumbai and Delhi, in a main diplomatic snafu amid talk of a frigid 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 The Canadian Embassy has withdrawn Atwal’s invitation to a dinner in Delhi tonight after media reports.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 abolished 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 big 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 condemned 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.
Mr Sidhu was shot at twice and endured, but was later assassinated in India.
The trial judge called the attack “an act of terrorism” and sentenced Atwal and the others to 20 years in prison.
It is not yet clear how Atwal got an Indian Visa and why he was cleared to attend official events in India.
Atwal is trusted to have been active in Canadian politics at both the provincial and federal level in recent years.
Many in India, including Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, allege the Canadian government of a soft approach on supporters of a separate Khalistan state.
Despite his strong criticism of Mr Trudeau’s government and ministers, Amarinder Singh met them yesterday in Amritsar. Later, the Chief Minister said he had raised the “Khalistan issue” with Mr Trudeau, and had been sure that Canada does not support any separatist movement in India or elsewhere.
Amarinder Singh gave Mr Trudeau a list of nine Category ‘A’ Canada-based operatives purportedly involved in hate crimes, terrorist activities and trying to radicalise young people and children in Punjab.
The 46-year-old prime minister will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi tomorrow for the first time since he came last Saturday for a week-long visit along with his wife and three children. That PM Modi did not receive him in Delhi or even accompany him in his home state Gujarat, was seen by many, including the Canadian media, as a slight. Government sources, however, denied it.
Sikhs account for roughly 1.5 % of Canada’s population.