A convicted Khalistani militant was invited to a dinner with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in New Delhi on Thursday. The invite has now been rescinded after the media questioned Trudeau over his soft stand on pro-Khalistan groups in Canada.
Jaspal Atwal, a member of the banned International Sikh Youth Federation, was convicted for trying to kill Punjab Cabinet minister Malkiat Singh Sidhu in Vancouver Island in 1986. He was sent to 20 years in prison. He has also been convicted in an automobile fraud case.
The dinner is 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.
Later, the Canada Prime Minister’s Office said they have rescinded his invitation. “We are in the process of looking into how this occurred,” it said, according to ANI.
Atwal, however, did attend another event in Mumbai on Tuesday. The matter came to light after the Toronto Sun accessed pictures of Atwal and Trudeau’s wife. Unidentified officials told the daily that Atwal could be a part of Trudeau’s official delegation in India. However, the prime minister’s office denied it, and added that individuals sometimes travel on their own to the location of the visit.
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.
On Wednesday, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, who met Trudeau in Amritsar, said he had brought up the Khalistan issue with him. On Monday, Trudeau had said in Mumbai that he supports “one united India” and this policy is “core to what Canada is”. “We have been diligent in ensuring that we are taking our responsibility seriously in cracking down on extremism,” he had said.