Jaspal Atwal Shouldn’t Have Received an Invite: Justin Trudeau

The Canadian Prime Minister also added that the MP who invited Atwal has assumed full responsibility for it.

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's India visit plunged into yet another controversy on Thursday over a dinner invitation to convicted Khalistani separatist Jaspal Atwal by the Canadian High Commissioner to India.

Swiftly moving to control damage, High Commissioner Nadir Patel cancelled the invite for the dinner, hosted tonight for Trudeau, while the external affairs ministry said it will "ascertain" how Atwal entered India.

Reacting to the controversy, Prime Minister Trudeau said:

Jaspal Atwal never should have received an invitation. As soon as we found out, we rescinded the invitation immediately. The MP, who invited this individual has assumed and will assume full responsibility for his action.

Union home ministry officials said Atwal no longer features on the government's blacklist of Sikh extremists. Atwal was convicted for trying to kill the then Punjab minister Malkiat Singh Sidhu in Vancouver in 1986.

When asked how Atwal got a visa, external affairs ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said the government is "ascertaining" details how he got a visa to enter India.

I can’t say immediately how it happened. There are various ways by which people can come to India whether you are an Indian national or an OCI (overseas citizen of India) card holder. So, we are ascertaining details from our mission (in Canada). Perhaps at a later stage I can share some details.
Raveesh Kumar, Spokesperson, MEA

He also said that, the fact that the ministry issued a visa means that Atwal is not an Indian national.

On whether Atwal can be arrested in India, Kumar said there were cases against him for which he has served his sentence. The ministry is not aware whether there are cases against him in India, that has to be checked with the law-enforcement agencies, he added.

The invite cancellation comes at a time when Trudeau's pro-Khalistan approach is being criticised by many including Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, who raised the issue with the Canadian prime minister during a meeting.

On his part, Trudeau had assured Singh that his country does not support separatism in India or elsewhere.

(With inputs from PTI)

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