Halfway through his week-long trip, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit to India seems to keep getting worse. Already plagued by bad press and speculation that the Canadian Prime Minister had been shunned by Indian government officials, on Thursday officials were again being put on the back burner by the Indian government after the revelation that a Sikh extremist who was found guilty of the attempted murder of an Indian politician had been given and invitation to eat with the Canadian prime minister at the Canadian High Commissioner’s home in New Delhi.
Outrage and Anger in India
While the invitation was eventually withdrawn, it was not done before it sparked outrage and anger in India, a place where the topic of the Sikh separatist movement is still a highly charged and contentious topic. Justin Trudeau made a statement on Thursday that his government took the situation very seriously and that the Sikh extremist should never have been given an invitation, and that as soon as they found out he was, the invitation was immediately rescinded. This does not explain though why, or how, he was given an invitation, as his conviction happened in Canada and was not a secret. Shouldn’t Trudeau and his government be aware of things like this, especially when he is going on a trip to a country where he knows he will be facing backlash for his seeming support of the Sikh movement?
The person who has caused this controversy is Jaspal Atwal, a Canadian national who is also of Indian heritage. He was sentenced to 20 years in 1987 for taking part in the attempted murder of an Indian state minister who was visiting Canada. To make matters even worse, there were a few Canadian media outlets who recently released photos of the prime minister’s wife, Sophie Trudeau, standing next to Jaspar Atwal at a reception that was held just a few days ago. What people now want to know are how Jaspal Atwal, someone who is a known militant, and has a criminal record, was able to get a visa so he could enter India, and more importantly, why he was seen around the Trudeau entourage. When Atwal was questioned as to how and why he was in India this week, he said he is not part of the official Canadian government delegation that is currently visiting India, and that he only came for a business trip.
Even Raveesh Kumar, who is the spokesmen for India’s Ministry of External Affairs, said he had no idea how this apparent oversight was able to take place, but that the Indian government is looking into it and are hoping to get answers soon.
Benjamin Diaz started working for Debate Report in 2017. Ben grew up in a small town in northern Ontario. He studied chemistry in college, graduated, and married his wife a year later. Benhas been a proud Torontonian for the past 10 years. He covers politics and the economy. Previously he wrote for CTV News and the Huffington Post Canada.