India on Wednesday rubbished the allegation that “rogue political elements in India may have orchestrated the embarrassing invitation” to a convicted Khalistani terrorist to sabotage Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent visit to the country as “baseless and unacceptable”.
“Let me categorically state that the Government of India, including the security agencies, had nothing to do with the presence of Jaspal Atwal at the event hosted by the Canadian high commissioner in Mumbai or the invitation issued to him for the Canadian high commissioner’s reception in New Delhi. Any suggestion to the contrary is baseless and unacceptable,” said Ministry of External Affairs’ spokesperson Raveesh Kumar.
India’s firm assertion comes a day after Trudeau faced questions from the opposition in the Canadian Parliament over the controversy and reports that he was standing by a senior who suggested that factions within the Indian government were trying to sabotage his recent India visit.
Atwal’s invitation — which was issued by a Canadian MP — for the Delhi reception had been withdrawn after his presence at the Mumbai reception triggered a huge controversy. Atwal was also photographed with Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, the PM’s wife, and one of the Cabinet ministers from Canada at the Mumbai event.
Atwal, once convicted for trying to kill Punjab minister Malkiat Singh Sidhu when he was visiting Canada in 1986, was removed from the Ministry of Home Affairs’s (MHA) blacklist as part of Indian government’s outreach to the “moderate” and “reformed” individuals in the pro-Khalisan section in the Sikh community in Canada, UK, Germany, US among others. About 200 such individuals have been taken off the list in the last few years.
Read | Who is Jaspal Atwal?
According to reports, Atwal had visited India last year in January and August. His previous visits to India had been in 2002 and 1999.