Khalistan separatist Jaspal Atwal migrated to Canada at a young age

In Canada, Atwal was convicted for ambushing and shooting Malkiat Singh Sidhu – who was a Minister in the Shiromani Akali Dal government – in 1986.

February 22, 2018 10:16 pm | Updated November 28, 2021 09:42 am IST - CHANDIGARH

 Jaspal Atwal seen with Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau at an event in Mumbai. Photo courtesy: CBC News

Jaspal Atwal seen with Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau at an event in Mumbai. Photo courtesy: CBC News

Jaspal Singh Atwal, an Indian-origin businessman and a Khalistan separatist convicted in the shooting of Punjab minister Malkiat Singh Sidhu in 1986, has shot into limelight after he was present at an event of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Mumbai and invited to another in New Delhi.

Mr. Atwal, who has close ties with the Khalistan movement, being a former member of the International Sikh Youth Federation, however, did not serve prison as the verdict was overturned during an appeal on technical grounds.

Hailing from Pharana village in Punjab’s Phagwara district, Mr. Atwal left for Canada at a young age and completed his studies there at the British Columbia Institute of Technology. Currently, he is associated with Media Wave Communications that runs a Surrey-based online radio station besides being in the construction business.

In Canada, Mr. Atwal was convicted for ambushing and shooting Malkiat Singh Sidhu – who was a Minister in the Shiromani Akali Dal government – in 1986. Three other men along with Mr. Atwal were part of the shooting and all of them faced conviction. Mr. Sidhu was attacked near Gold River on Vancouver Island when he was on a private trip to Canada. While Mr. Sidhu survived the attack, he was later killed by terrorists in 1991 in Moga, Punjab.

Canada’s trial court, while terming the ambushing and shooting attempt as an act of terrorism, convicted and sentenced Mr. Atwal, along with other three associates, to 20 years’ imprisonment.

Later on, during an appeal, the verdict of the lower court was overturned and none of the accused had to serve their prison terms, it was reported by Vancouver Sun .

According to CBC News, another Canadian media outlet, Mr. Atwal was also charged for an attack on Ujjal Dosanjh (Mr. Dosanjh later became the Premier of British Columbia) for opposing the Sikh separatist movement. He was not convicted in the case.

Punjab-based journalist Baljit Singh Balli, who met Mr. Atwal last year in Canada during a talk show on Wave Media radio channel, told The Hindu that Mr. Atwal claimed that he was not involved in any attack on Mr. Dosanjh and was being wrongly blamed.

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