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minister in 1986 — attended a reception in Mumbai but Trudeau’s office said a later invitation to a party in New Delhi was revoked as soon as his name was spotted on the guest list.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

Most cows saved during massive fire on Agassiz farm thanks to fast work of farmers, neighbours

Agassiz Fire Department responded to late night call Wednesday

Risk of thunderstorm this afternoon for Vancouver Island and Lower Mainland

A special weather statement calls for heavy rain and wind over the next 48 hours

Massive fire destroys Agassiz dairy barn

Reports say at least one cow died in the blaze

First court date in Chilliwack for man accused of murdering Belgian tourist

Family and friends of Sean McKenzie, 27, filled the gallery for brief court appearance Wednesday

Another successful year for Chilliwack’s ‘We Got Your Back’ backpack program

Sponsored by local businesses, program stocks backpacks with school supplies for students in need

VIDEO: Neighbours fear impact of B.C. tent city residents

Greater Victoria residents opposed to campers voice concerns at provincial campground

B.C. premier apologizes for removal of 1950s totem pole at Canada-U.S. border

First Nations say pole was raised at Peace Arch but removed to make way for tourism centre

Tornado touches down in Ottawa and Gatineau, Que.

Environment Canada says cars and homes have been damaged by severe thunderstorms and high wind gusts

An unexpected sight: Bear spotted eating another bear in central B.C.

Cheslatta Carrier Nation Chief finds bear eating another bear’s carcass

Free vet clinic caters to pets of homeless, low income people

The first such clinic in Langley will take place later this month.

RCMP confirm death of missing BC teen Jessica Patrick

No details on cause were given. Case is under criminal investigation and police are asking for tips.

Extradition hearing set for Lower Mainland developer accused of fraud

Mark Chandler will go before the B.C. Court of Appeals early next year.

CUTENESS OVERLOAD: 2 sea otters hold hands at the Vancouver Aquarium

Holding hands is a common – and adorable – way for otters to stay safe in the water

B.C. teen with autism a talented guitarist

Farley Mifsud is gaining fans with every performance

Most Read