Former Khalistani militant Jaspal Atwal, who was at the centre of a diplomatic controversy over an invitation to an official dinner in Delhi with visiting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in February, apologised on Friday for any embarrassment he may have caused, The Star reported.
“I had assumed there would be no problem,” said Atwal. “No one at any point indicated there would be any issue. I am sorry for the embarrassment this matter has caused to Canada, India, my community and family and friends.”
Atwal was convicted for the attempted murder of Punjab Cabinet minister Malkiat Singh Sidhu, who was visiting the Canadian province of British Columbia in 1986. He was sentenced to 20 years in jail, but was released on parole in the early 1990s.
“I have nothing but regret and remorse for my action and the suffering I have caused to the victim,” Atwal told reporters. “This terrible event that happened in the past is something that I live with everyday and take complete responsibility for.”
Atwal said he had renounced any form of terrorism and did not advocate for an independent Sikh nation anymore, PTI reported. “I, like the vast majority of Sikhs who once advocated for this cause, have reconciled with the nation of India.”
Atwal had attended a dinner hosted in Trudeau’s honour in Mumbai, but an invitation to another dinner reception – at the Canadian High Commissioner’s residence in New Delhi – was rescinded after a furore.
Canadian lawmaker Randeep S Sarai later issued a statement, assuming responsibility for inviting Atwal. The former militant said that he had asked Sarai if he could attend these events. Sarai has been stripped of his responsibilities within the Liberal caucus, PTI reported.