Published: Fri, February 23, 2018
Sports | By Phillip Butler

Canada doesn't support any separatist movement, Trudeau assures Amarinder

Canada doesn't support any separatist movement, Trudeau assures Amarinder

Trudeau's categorical assurance that Canada did not sympathize with the Khalistan movement and his ardent support for "one united India" came to naught when a photograph surfaced of his wife Sophie Gregoire alongside convicted Khalistani terrorist Jaspal Atwal at an event in Mumbai. The prime minister's office apparently had no knowledge of Atwal's past and did not rescind the invitation to dinner until notified by CBC News of the former terrorist's infamy. "As soon as we received the info we rescinded it, a member of Parliament had included this individual", said Trudeau.

Tensions over Canada's alleged support for Sikh separatism have dominated the Canadian prime minister's first official trip to India.

"They still didn't vet everybody properly and they allowed a former violent Khalistani access to the delegation", Dosanjh said.

Fielding a volley of questions at the regular briefing, foreign ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar said: "We do not know on what visa he entered India".

"This shows incredibly poor judgment by the prime minister and is a major setback to our relationship with India and reputation around the world", O'Toole said.

Atwal was a member of the International Sikh Youth Federation, an organisation outlawed in India and Canada, among other places, that seeks an independent Sikh state of Khalistan.

The spokesperson said that the fact that an Indian visa was issued to Atwal means that he is not an Indian national and he holds a Canadian passport. Atwal later admitted to the parole board that he was the shooter that day. Top sources said following the removal of his name from the blacklist, Mr Atwal applied for an e-visa, which was granted.

However, photographs of Atwal sharing space with Trudeau's wife emerged in Canadian media triggering a fresh debate. Sidhu survived the attack but, five years later, was killed in Punjab's Moga. Atwal was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

It also said that in 2011, Atwal lost a $28,000 decision against the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia in relation to a auto fraud ring that included dozens of people.

News of the dinner invitation comes amid speculation that the Canadian prime minister has received a lukewarm reception in India, a charge both countries have denied.

Atwal's name no longer figures in the current blacklist, he added. A meeting with Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh at Amritsar on Wednesday was organised only at the last moment.

The Prime Minister added that he was keen to get reacquainted with Trudeau's three children - Xavier, Ella-Grace, and Hadrien - whom he'd first met during his visit to Canada back in 2015.

Canada is home to roughly half a million Sikhs and Trudeau's administration has been accused of being too cosy with those agitating for a separate homeland in India's northern Punjab state.

Some inveterate optimists believe that these words are the markers of a new beginning, and that the proximate future will see abruptly stringent action against Khalistani formations and sympathisers in Canada.

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