New Delhi: ejecting ‘conspiracy theory’ surrounding Khalistani terrorist Jaspal Atwal’s presence at Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Mumbai reception, India on Wednesday said that it had nothing to with the incident and “any suggestion to the contrary is baseless and unacceptable.”
The rebuttal by India came as Trudeau on Tuesday supported a theory floated by a senior government official who suggested that Indian government factions set him up for embarrassment by allowing Jaspal Atwal into the country.
Atwal was a Sikh separatist active in the banned International Sikh Youth Federation when he was convicted of an attempt to murder of Punjab minister Malkiat Singh Sidhu in Vancouver in 1986.
“When one of our top diplomats and security officials says something to Canadians it’s because they know it to be true,” Trudeau said in response to an Opposition leader’s question in the Canadian Parliament.
In a statement today, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said: “We have seen the recent exchange in the Parliament of Canada regarding two invitations issued to Jaspal Atwal by the Canadian High Commissioner, for functions hosted in honour of the Canadian Prime Minister in India.”
“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,” he said.
During Trudeau’s visit, Atwal was seen posing along with Canadian Prime Minister’s wife Sophie Trudeau at an event in Mumbai on February 20.
Last week, a government official suggested that Atwal’s presence was arranged by factions within the Indian government who wanted to embarrass Trudeau on Khalistan issue.
According to a report in the National Post, the source said it is “not an accident” that the Indian government removed Atwal from a blacklist of people blocked from obtaining visas to travel to the country — and that it would be convenient for some in India’s government, specifically its intelligence service, to embarrass Trudeau on the topic of Sikh separatism.