Published: Fri, March 09, 2018
Global | By Marsha Munoz

Atwal says he renounced terrorism, requested invite to Trudeau India event

Atwal says he renounced terrorism, requested invite to Trudeau India event

Posing questions about Atwal's behavior, Gill said, are akin to asking someone, "Can you tell me when you stopped snorting cocaine?" "Certainly somebody was trying to embarrass somebody, I'll put it that way".

Atwal, who was convicted of trying to kill an Indian cabinet minister in 1986, made global headlines over his attendance at the event that resulted in embarrassment for the Canadian government.

February 22: An invitation for Atwal to a reception in New Delhi is rescinded by the Prime Minister's Office.

Sarai, meanwhile, has been stripped of his responsibilities within the Liberal caucus.

February 23: A senior Canadian official with knowledge of security issues says Canadian authorities believe it was no accident that Atwal was suddenly allowed into India and was able to make his way onto the guest list for two receptions with Trudeau.

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Atwal told reporters that he was travelling to India this year, and asked Sarai if he could attend an event with Canadian politicians during Trudeau's visit.

"If anybody has a specific accusation that they can point to, I'd like to hear it", Gill said.

On the issue of Atwal's invitation, Canadian PM Trudeau had said that the matter was extremely serious.

Jaspal Atwal reads his statement to media in Vancouver on March 8, 2018.

His trip was personal and was already planned and he made a single request to Liberal MP Randeep Sarai to attend official receptions during Trudeau's visit to India, and that was met with alacrity.

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Gill said his client was never approached by Canadian security officials for any sort of vetting prior to his arrival to the event.

Atwal, 62, was a Sikh separatist active in the banned International Sikh Youth Federation when he was convicted for attempting to murder Punjab minister Malkiat Singh Sidhu in Vancouver in 1986. "It was a cowardly and heinous attack on a man they did not personally know, not for personal gain, but as a result of some belief or impression that by so doing they were advancing a political cause deemed important to these four individuals".

The invite sent to Atwal read: "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 Hounourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada".

"I'm sorry for the embarrassment this matter has caused to Canada, India, my community, and family and friends", he said. I, again, renounce any form of terrorism. I do not advocate for an independent Sikh nation.

Gill said there's a secondary issue at play in this news story and that is "an obsession with some members of the media, particular members, with a struggle between militants who cause great violence from the Sikh community in India and here, and the Indian government, that occurred, I'm 51 this year and that occurred when I was in Grade 10".

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Atwal said this was not his first visit to India since his release from custody, adding he travelled to his homeland twice in 2017 and received a visa from the Indian government without trouble.

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