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minister in 1986 — attended a reception in Mumbai but Trudeau’s office said a later invitation to a party in New Delhi was revoked as soon as his name was spotted on the guest list.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

Giants sixth straight win enjoyed at home in Langley

Giants also defeated Kelowna Saturday, and are now on tap to play Portland Monday afternoon at LEC.

DW Poppy Sr. boys basketball defeats ACSS Totems rivals

DW Poppy’s Sr. boys RedHawks defeated ACSS Totems this Friday in a high-stakes basketball match.

VIDEO: All ages participate in Langley Hospice Historic Half marathon

Turnout was down, slightly, this year but donations are up

VIDEO: Vancouver Giants blank Rockets

Langley-based G-men take over top spot in the west

Langley Township goes high tech to spotlight local history

To mark the start of History Week, the Township has put out a new app all about the community.

‘Just like Iron Man’: Calgary surgeon undergoes experimental spinal surgery

Dr. Richi Gill was in a freak accident on a boogie board during a family vacation in Hawaii

Sex abuse survivors to meet with Vatican summit organizers

Pope Francis has urged participants to meet with abuse victims before they came to Rome

Ex-FBI official: ‘Crime may have been committed’ by Trump

Andrew McCabe said FBI had good reason to open a counterintelligence investigation into whether Trump was in league with Russia

B.C. athlete takes home gold in freestyle aerials at Canada Games

Brayden Kuroda won the event with a combined score of 121.65.

Pedestrian in serious condition after hit by car downtown Abbotsford

A youth was also hit, suffered minor injuries, police say

Cabinet likely to extend deadline to reconsider Trans Mountain pipeline

New round of consultations with Indigenous communities is coming

B.C. government provides $75,000 towards salmon study

Study looks at abundance and health of Pacific salmon in Gulf of Alaska

Most Read