A convicted attempted terrorist has been invited to attend an official state dinner reception during the Prime Minister's visit to India.
(This column originally appeared in the Toronto Sun)
By: Candice Malcolm
A gunman found guilty of attempting to assassinate an Indian cabinet minister visiting Canada in 1986 has been invited to attend an official state dinner reception during Justin Trudeau’s India visit.
Jaspal Atwal was convicted of attempted murder in 1987, after shooting moderate Sikh politician Malkiat Singh Sidhu, who at the time was visiting family on Vancouver Island.
He’s is a former member of the International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF), a militant group fighting to establish an independent Sikh state in the Punjab region of India that was banned in Canada and designated a terrorist organization in 2003.
The Sun was shown photos of Atwal with Sophie Trudeau, which confirm he is in India with Trudeau’s delegation this week. The Sun was also shown a copy of the official invitation addressed to Atwal.
“His Excellency Nadir Patel, High Commissioner for Canada to India, is pleased to invite Jaspal Atwal to a dinner reception celebrating Canada-India ties on the occasion of the visit of The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada,” the invitation reads.
The private event will be held on Thursday in the New Delhi home of the Canadian High Commissioner – the top Canadian diplomat in India.
Atwal has already been photographed in India with Trudeau’s wife Sophie Trudeau, Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi, and Brampton South Liberal MP Sonia Sidhu.
Trudeau’s office was contacted to confirm whether Atwal was a part of Trudeau’s official delegation. Sources suggested that is the case, however, the PMO could not confirm that Wednesday. The PMO told CBC “the High Commission is in the process of rescinding Mr. Atwal’s invitation.”
Sidhu was a Minister of State in the Punjab state government at the time. He was attending his nephew’s wedding and driving on a rural road in the small community of Gold River, British Columbia, when his car was ambushed by Sikh extremists.
Sindu’s car windows were smashed and he was shot five times, but survived the attempted assassination.
Four men, including Jaspal Atwal, were arrested and eventually sentenced to 20 years in prison. The men did not serve jail time, however, because CSIS was found to have obtained evidence through an improperly obtained warrant.
In 2011, Atwal lost a $28,000 decision against the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia in relation to a car fraud ring that included dozens of people.
Atwal is a partisan activist in British Columbia and previously held a leadership position in Surrey with the Liberal Party of Canada. Atwal showed up to Budget Day in Victoria in 2012, former Liberal Premier Christy Clark spoke out against him.
“He shouldn’t have been here. So, in the future, we’re going to have much more scrutiny,” said Clark at the time. “If I had recognized his name, he wouldn’t have been here.”
Atwal’s presence at an official function adds insult to injury for Trudeau’s India tour, already overshadowed by the cold shoulder the Indian government has given Canada’s PM. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not welcome Trudeau at the airport, as he has for many other foreign leaders, and did not accompany Trudeau to his home state of Gujarat.
The snub likely comes as a result of Trudeau’s failure to denounce and condemn Sikh extremists and Khalistan terrorists in Canada.
In April 2017, Trudeau attended a pro-Khalistan parade that featured shrines dedicated to Sikh terrorists. Trudeau was photographed in front of a Khalistan independence flag, a move that is very disrespectful to his Indian hosts.
Trudeau is being heavily criticized for other aspects of this junket. His itinerary includes seven days of sight-seeing with his family, several partisan Liberal political events, and only half a day of official bilateral meetings with government officials in the world’s largest democracy and Canada’s closest ally in Asia.