Liberal MPs wrote letters of support to the Indian government to lobby for members of the Canadian delegation to India.
(This column originally appeared in the Toronto Sun)
By: Candice Malcolm
As the fallout continues over Trudeau’s disastrous trip to India, the Sun has learned new details about the Indian visa process for the Canadian delegation.
According to multiple sources, the Trudeau government may have lobbied the Indian government to help obtain visas for people who would have otherwise been refused entry to India.
Many questions still remain about how convicted assassin Jaspal Atwal received a visa to travel to India in the first place, and some have suggested the Indian government should shoulder part of the blame for extending a visa to him.
Indian media have reported the Indian government has initiated a probe into how the visa was issued to Atwal.
Atwal was one of four Sikh extremists convicted of the attempted murder of moderate Sikh cabinet minister Malkiat Singh Sidhu while he visited B.C. in 1986. Atwal was invited by the Canadian High Commission, via a Liberal MP, to attend an official state dinner during Trudeau’s current visit to India, an invitation the PM suggested Atwal “should never should have received.”
Paramjit Singh Randhawa is a Canadian-based businessman and supporter of the controversial World Sikh Organization. He hadn’t been to India since his family left in 1980.
“I applied for a visa to visit India seven times in the last 38 years, but it was refused,” he’s quoted saying in the Express.
“As Trudeau was planning the visit to India, member of the Canadian Parliament from my constituency Richmond Joe Peschisolido sent my name in the list of delegates. Finally, I got the visa on arrival for 60 days after landing in Delhi along with delegation,” said Randhawa.
According to a source within the Sikh community in Surrey, British Columbia, a similar letter of support for Jaspar Atwal was written by another Liberal MP, a claim the Sun has not been able to independently verify.
The Sun also spoke with a senior Indian government official who suggested that these visas may have been granted as a goodwill gesture to the Canadian delegation.
The Indian source, who has diplomatic experience in Canada, said in general “India’s visa policy is very liberal and based on a negative list approach.” Since Canada is a trusted country, few visas are declined by the Indian government – unless an individual is named on a “radical Khalistani or Islamic extremist” blacklist.
Other problems also complicate matters for the Indian government when issuing visas.
“Unscrupulous elements are able to change names and other personal particulars in the passport very easily, on the basis of a simple affidavit,” said the source, who asked not to be named because they are not authorized to speak about Canada.
“There is also the option not to mention certain personal details,” said the official, “this causes a considerable challenge (because) popular Sikh names are so few that one can find many people of the same name, even matching parents names, in the same district.”
The Trudeau Government has tried to shirk responsibility for Atwal’s presence in India, after the Sun broke news that Atwal, a convicted gunman and former member of a banned terrorist organization, was part of Trudeau’s entourage.
Federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, Amarjeet Sohi, with Jaspal Atwal this week.
PMO claimed Atwal’s invitation to a state dinner was sent by “mistake,” and blamed it on rookie Surrey Centre MP Randeep Sarai.
A CBC report went even further, quoting an anonymous senior Canadian government official who claimed that “rogue political elements in India may have orchestrated the embarrassing invitation.”
The story did not acknowledge that Liberal MPs had written letters of support to the Indian government to lobby for members of the Canadian delegation to India.