Justin Trudeau rescinds India dinner invite to Sikh separatist

Dean Simpson
February 23, 2018

But the cool reception Trudeau has received from the Modi government since landing in India suggests disquiet with the Liberal government's approach to Sikh extremism.

Read | Who is Jaspal Atwal?

Vij, the co-founder of Vancouver's Vij's restaurant, was flown to India as Trudeau is on a week-long trip in the country. Or when Mr. Atwal posed with Sophie Grégoire Trudeau and Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi at an event in Mumbai on Tuesday?

His administration has faced accusations that it is too soft on separatists who support a Sikh independence movement, also called the "Khalistan movement".

After paying a visit to the Taj, the Canadian Prime Minister toured the Churmura Wildlife sanctuary in Mathura along with his family.

"If the members of Parliament themselves are working at cross-purposes to the security services, how are we supposed to prevent stuff like this?"

Perhaps taking advantage of the central government's decision to remove his name from the blacklist, Atwal arrived in India and subsequently got the invitation to the dinner being hosted in honour of Trudeau by High Commissioner of Canada Nadir Patel, an official said. "That's happening too much".

All of it is a symptom of something more serious: a failure to think seriously about our interests in the world, said Mulroney.

Trudeau's turbulent trip to India has drawn criticism from the Conservatives and raised eyebrows internationally. But India is already preoccupied with Sikh separatism in Canada, and with the Trudeau government's apparent willingness to tolerate it for votes.

Modi tweeted Thursday that he is looking forward to meeting Trudeau and that he appreciated "his deep commitment to ties between our two countries".

Canada has a large Sikh community and Mr Trudeau's cabinet includes four Sikh-Canadians.

Top Indian government sources told this newspaper that Mr Atwal - who was originally on an Indian government blacklist for his terror activities - had been removed from the blacklist by the Union home ministry as part of an "outreach" to moderate elements in the pro-Khalistan lobby overseas who were seen to have given up their radical activities.

"It is a real signal that all is not well and he doesn't appreciate what he's hearing about our position", he said. NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, for one, has been denied a visa in the past.

"I reject the baseless attacks against Canadian cabinet ministers and we should be wary of any global interference in our political affairs, especially when it's targeted at minorities such as members of the Sikh community", Singh said in a statement.

Cooperation on counter-terror measures is also expected to be a key area of focus in view of India's concerns over Sikh radicalism in Canada. "Like all Canadians, I condemn all acts of terrorism and violence while maintaining a fundamental belief in the freedom of belief and expression".

Jaspal Atwal, a Canadian citizen of Indian origin, was convicted and later acquitted of trying to assassinate an Indian minister in 1986.

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