The Indian government on Thursday said that it was trying to ascertain how convicted Khalistani militant Jaspal Atwal, who lives in Canada, was issued a visa. “I do not know how it happened. We will ascertain information from our [High] Commission,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar (pictured above) said.

Atwal attended a dinner hosted in honour of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Mumbai on Tuesday. An invitation to another dinner reception – at the Canadian High Commissioner’s residence in New Delhi on Thursday – was rescinded after a furore.

Kumar asked the media not to presume how Atwal managed to enter the country. “This is something which we are trying to find out,” the MEA official said.

The Canadian government, he added, had accepted that the invitation extended to Atwal was the result of an oversight. “They have accepted it was an oversight and have withdrawn the invitation. I think we should move on.”


Asked if there were charges pending against Atwal and if the government was considering taking action against him, Kumar said that the ministry would consult law-enforcement agencies on this matter. “There were cases against him for which he has spent time in prison, that is my sense of it,” he said.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Trudeau told reporters in New Delhi that his government had taken this incident very seriously, and admitted that Atwal should not have received the invitation. “A Member of Parliament who included this individual will assume full responsibility for this,” he said.

Canadian lawmaker Randeep S Sarai then issued a statement, saying he was responsible for inviting Atwal to the reception dinner. “I alone facilitated his request to attend this important event,” Sarai said. “I should have exercised better judgment, and I take full responsibility for my actions.”