Trudeau hints at probe into invitation to Jaspal Atwal

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. File   | Photo Credit: AP

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau indicated on Friday that he would hold officials accountable for the embarrassment caused by the presence of an extremist Sikh sympathiser at events organised in his honour in India.

Addressing a select group of international media here, Mr. Trudeau said his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi was “great”, and said he had assured the Punjab government of security cooperation.

Jaspal Atwal, a Canadian businessman of Indian origin, known for his proximity to the separatist International Sikh Youth Federation and arrested for an attack on a Punjab Minister in 1986, has been part of Mr. Trudeau’s delegation at official events over the last couple of days.

“Obviously, it was not acceptable to me that the concerned gentleman was present here. I will have a conversation on this,” Mr. Trudeau said, hinting that he might order an official inquiry into how Mr. Atwal attended events with him.

The Atwal issue had diverted attention from the focus on trade and cooperation to extremism, Mr Trudeau indicated.

Mr. Trudeau said that he was proud of the contribution that “all sections of Indian-Canadians” have made to Canada and said, “The heart of Indian and Canadian success is pluralism.”

The press conference was the last major media interaction at the end of the Canadian Prime Minister’s weeklong visit which sparked sharp criticism after the Canadian media highlighted Mr Atwal’s presence at official events.

Earlier at the official press conference after talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Mr Trudeau, the former urged the Canadian leader to fight terrorism jointly.

Mr. Modi said, “Terrorism and extremism are dangers for pluralist societies like India and Canada. Those who try to use communal sentiments and want to build separatist divides should have no place among us. Those who want to challenge our country’s sovereignty, unity and integrity will also not be tolerated.”

Mr. Trudeau confirmed that Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had given a list of radicals and individuals involved in drug trafficking and said: “I will pass on the list (from Punjab) to our intelligence agency.”

India and Canada concluded a “Framework for Cooperation for Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism,” showing commitment to take on groups such as IS and Babbar Khalsa International.

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Printable version | Aug 2, 2021 3:18:04 PM |

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