New Delhi, Feb 22: With his visit already clouded over the issue of support to Khalistanis, Cadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faced a huge embarrassment on Thursday when a convicted Khalistan separatist Jaspal Atwal was invited to a reception being hosted by his country’s High Commission here in his honour, also triggering a probe in India as to how Atwal was given a visa. Following the row, the invitation to Atwal, who was convicted in Cada for the attempted assassition of a Punjab minister in 1986, was rescinded by the High Commission.
India ascertaining how visa issued to Khalistan separatist
Trudeau, who has apparently been cold shouldered by the Indian government ever since his arrival on Saturday, faced questions from the media on the issue. The matter was being taken “extremely seriously” and Atwal should never have received an invitation, he told the media on the sidelines of a business event.
“As soon as we received the information, we rescinded it. A Member of Parliament (from Cada) had included this individual (in the delegation’s list),” Trudeau said. Maintaining that both countries were “committed to pursuing and upholding democracy”, he said that Cada and India were the world’s two largest democracies, one by size and one by population.
The spokesperson said that the fact that an Indian visa was issued to Atwal means that he is not an Indian tiol and he holds a Cadian passport. Asked whether there are cases against Atwal in India or whether he will be apprehended while on Indian soil, Kumar said that one has to wait for the law enforcement agencies for this. Meanwhile, the Union Home Ministry said that Atwal’s me does not figure in the blacklist category maintained by it. Cadian Minister for Science and Sports Kirsty Duncan, who is in Trudeau’s delegation, also said that Atwal should never have been invited. It stated that Atwal has also been photographed in India with Indian-origin Brampton South Liberal MP Sonia Sidhu.
Atwal was found guilty of attempting to assassite then Punjab state minister Malkiat Singh Sidhu in 1986 when he was on a visit to Cada for a family wedding. Sidhu was driving on a rural road in the small community of Gold River, British Columbia, when his car was ambushed by Sikh extremists. The car’s windows were smashed and Sidhu was shot five times, but survived the assassition attempt. It also said that in 2011, Atwal lost a $28,000 decision against the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia in relation to a car fraud ring that included dozens of people. “Atwal is a partisan activist in British Columbia and previously held a leadership position in Surrey with the Liberal Party of Cada,” the report added. Atwal is also a former member of the Intertiol Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF), a militant group that was banned in Cada and desigted a terrorist organisation in 2003. Modi, who usually tweets during visits by foreign dignitaries, has not so far welcomed him. He also did not accompany Trudeau to Ahmedabad. A meeting with Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh at Amritsar on Wednesday was organised only at the last moment. While Trudeau made it clear in the meeting that Cada does not support Khalistani separatists, Singh handed over a list of nine Cada-based operatives alleged to have been involved in hate crimes in Punjab by fincing and supplying weapons for terrorist activities, and also engaged in trying to radicalise youth and children in the state. (IANS)