Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visits the Jama Masjid Mosque in New Delhi, India on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018. India’s Ministry of External Affairs issued a statement Wednesday stating the Indian government had no role in an attempted murderer being invited to a pair of events Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended during his visit to India last week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

India denies role in Atwal controversy; ‘baseless,’ says official

India’s Ministry of External Affairs states the Indian government had no role in an attempted murderer being invited

India’s Ministry of External Affairs issued a statement Wednesday stating the Indian government had no role in an attempted murderer being invited to a pair of events Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended during his visit to India last week.

Jaspal Atwal — a B.C. Sikh convicted of trying to kill an Indian cabinet minister in 1986 — attended a reception in Mumbai but Trudeau’s office said a later invitation to a party in New Delhi was revoked as soon as his name was spotted on the guest list.

In a background briefing arranged by the Prime Minister’s Office, a government official has suggested Atwal’s presence was arranged by factions within the Indian government who want to prevent Prime Minister Narendra Modi from getting too cosy with a foreign government they believe is not committed to a united India.

Related: Atwal fiasco dogs Trudeau; PM pledges a ‘conversation’ with MP responsible

But the official spokesman for the Indian ministry said Modi’s government had nothing to do with invitations issued to Atwal.

“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,” said Raveesh Kumar in a brief statement posted on the ministry website.

“Any suggestion to the contrary is baseless and unacceptable,” he said.

Conservatives have identified the Canadian official as Trudeau’s national security adviser, Daniel Jean, whom Trudeau defended Tuesday as a member of the professional, non-partisan public service.

But Trudeau nevertheless accepted the offer of Liberal backbencher Randeep Sarai, who’s taken responsibility for inviting Atwal to events with the prime minister in India, to resign as the chair of the party’s Pacific caucus.

“I want to again apologize for my role in recent unfortunate events,” Sarai said in a statement, adding that he’ll “be exercising better judgment” in future.

Related: Atwal says he bowed out of event to save Trudeau embarrassment

Atwal, a one-time member of a Sikh separatist group that is banned in Canada and India as a terrorist organization, was convicted of attempting to kill Indian cabinet minister Malkiat Singh Sidhu on Vancouver Island in 1986.

He was also charged, but not convicted, in connection with a 1985 attack on Ujjal Dosanjh, a staunch opponent of the Sikh separatist movement, who later became B.C. premier and a federal Liberal cabinet minister.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Kelowna cyclist sent to hospital after colliding with truck

A woman was sent to the hospital Wednesday morning

Line-up set for 2019 Canadian Culinary Championships in Kelowna set

Eleven chefs from across the country have been selected for championships Feb. 1 and 2.

Rutland’s Christmas Light Up to bring holiday magic once again

The annual Rutland Light Up takes place Dec. 9

A Charlie Brown Christmas comes to Kelowna for a Holiday treat

The Peanuts classic comes to life again Dec. 6 to 16

Lake Country will get a new fire hall

Council allowed the district to borrow up to $6.6 million for the hall

VIDEO: E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce sickens 18 people in Ontario, Quebec

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says it’s working with U.S. authorities to determine the source of the romaine lettuce those who got ill were exposed to.

Feds give formal notice for law to end Canada Post strike

Trudeau government ready to legislate employees back to work after five weeks of rotating strikes

Lower Mainland suspect identified in fatal northern B.C. hit and run

Suspect and seven other individuals believed involved located on Haida Gwaii

‘Bait and switch’ warning ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Competition Bureau of Canada is warning shoppers of illegal sale tactics

Legal battle ahead for suspended B.C. legislature executives

Public removal ‘very unfair,’ says veteran clerk Craig James

B.C. sees biggest spike in homicides across Canada, at 34%

Much of the killing was attributed to gang violence, according to Statistics Canada

Fundraiser established for the family of South Okanagan crash victim

A GoFundMe account has been established for the Penticton driver who died in an accident

Sea lion tangled in rope on Vancouver Island

Marine debris is a ‘significant problem’ for marine wildlife

Postal strike affects charities at critical fundraising time

Canadian fundraising professionals and charities join call for fast resolution

Most Read