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Trudeau Event Invite To Pro-Khalistani Convict Jaspal Atwal Cancelled At Last Minute

DIVYIA ASTHANA | 0
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| February 22 , 2018 , 11:47 IST

The first visit of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to India has been marred by his perceived support of pro-Khalistani forces, which was highlighted even more when it was revealed that a convicted pro-Khalistani terrorist Jaspal Atwal had been invited to an official event.

Soon after reports came to light that Atwal was invited to a formal reception for PM Justin Trudeau hosted by the Canadian High Commissioner in New Delhi, the invitation was rescinded.

Although Jaspal Atwal did not travel to India along with PM Trudeau in his entourage, he was spotted at a Mumbai event on Tuesday and was photographed with the Canadian PM's wife Sophie Trudeau and Canadian Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, Amarjeet Sohi.

When questioned by media regarding the invite to Jaspal Atwal, PM Trudeau gave no response.

Jaspal Atwal, along with 3 others were found guilty of attempting to murder Punjab Minister Malkiat Singh Sidhu on Vancouver Island of Canada in 1986 when Sidhu was there for a private visit. All 4 of the accused were sentenced to 20 years jail with the attack being termed as "an act of terrorism". Atwal had then been a part of the 'International Sikh Youth Federation' which is designated as a terrorist group by India, Canada, the UK, and the US.

Initial reports said that Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh might not be meeting with Trudeau due to the Canadian government's soft approach towards Khalistan supporters, but the meeting took place on Wednesday in Amritsar. During the meet, Trudeau reportedly assured the Punjab CM that Canada does not support any separatist movements.

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Amarinder Singh also gave the Canada PM a list of 9 Category 'A' Canada-based operatives that are allegedly involved in hate crimes, terrorist activities and radicalisation of youth, CM's media advisor Raveen Thukral said.

"The categorical assurance from Trudeau came when Captain Amarinder sought the Canadian Prime Minister's cooperation in cracking down on separatism and hate crime by a fringe element, constituting a miniscule percentage of Canada's population," said the Punjab Chief Minister's office after the meeting.

In Mumbai, ahead of the Punjab visit, Trudeau said, "We of course reject violence and hate speech or hateful speech, but at the same time I can reassure everyone that my position, that Canada's position has not changed. We support one united India."

Currently, Sikhs account for around 1.5 percent of Canada's population.