The Ministry of External Affairs in a weekly media briefing today has clarified on the issue of convicted terrorist Jaspal Atwal being present in India and being invited to a state dinner with the visiting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
— Indian Diplomacy (@IndianDiplomacy) February 22, 2018
MEA spokesperson Ravish Kumar answered several questions from journalists on the issue during today’s briefing. He stated that there has been news of a convicted Khalistani terrorist Jaspal Atwal being invited to state dinner with the Canadian PM and the Canadian officials have apologised on the issue. He added that the Canadian officials have admitted that it was an oversight and they had rescinded his invitation.
Atwal was seen on 20th February at a function in Mumbai.
Jaspal Atwal, a convicted Khalistani terrorist who was active in the banned Int’l Sikh Youth Federation, photographed w/Canadian PM’s wife Sophie Trudeau at an event in Mumbai on 20 Feb. He was also invited for formal dinner with Canadian PM, invite being rescinded now (CBC News) pic.twitter.com/pT7P3eLq1L
— ANI (@ANI) February 22, 2018
Answering questions on how Atwal managed to come to India, the spokesperson said that Atwal is a Canadian citizen and there are several methods to get an Indian visa like e-visa, visa on arrival for certain nations, OCI (Overseas Citizen of India ) etc and the MEA is now investigating how did he manage to come to India.
Answering a question on whether Atwal has any pending cases against him, the spokesperson said Atwal had served prison time for the attempted murder of a Punjab Minister and law enforcement officials might better answer whether he has any pending cases in India too. He clarified that news that the Canadian government cancelling Athwal’s visa is wrong as it is the Indian authorities who issue the visa to visiting citizens of another country. Answering another question on whether another separatist Paramjit Singh Randhawa has come to India too, the spokesperson said that he is not aware of it.
Canadian Journalist Abigail Bimman had tweeted earlier that the Canadian MP Randeep Sarai has taken responsibility for the invitation and the invitation to the state dinner at the high commission has been cancelled.
— Abigail Bimman (@AbigailBimman) February 22, 2018
Earlier, another Canadian journalist Candice Malcolm had tweeted that the Canadian Prime Minister’s links with Athwal might be older than expected.
And here is Jaspal Atwal with Trudeau himself at a Liberal Party event some time ago. Ties are deeper than is being suggested. (anyone recognize this event? Can you help with a date and location?) pic.twitter.com/ObKo5uCCcU
— Candice Malcolm (@CandiceMalcolm) February 22, 2018
Widespread objections were raised on social and mainstream media after pictures of Athwal with Sophie Trudeau and other visiting dignitaries emerged. Justin Trudeau is on a week-long visit to India and there had earlier been speculations of the Indian Government being displeased with him for his concerning links with Khalistan separatists. Trudeau had finally met Punjab CM Amarinder Singh yesterday after days of speculation. The association with Khalistani sympathisers have always been a cause for concern in India Canada relationship after Trudeau came to power. So far there had been no meeting or official welcome statement for Trudeau from Prime Minister Modi. Trudeau is expected to meet him on Friday.