Atwal ‘sorry’ for causing embarrassment to Trudeau

Saturday, 10/03/2018

TORONTO : The former Khalistani militant at the centre of a controversy that engulfed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit to India has said he was “shocked and devastated” by the furore over an invitation to him to attend a dinner reception at the home of the Canadian envoy in New Delhi.

Jaspal Atwal, who attempted to assassinate a visiting minister from Punjab in 1986, with Sophie Trudeau, wife of Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, during a recent visit to India.

Jaspal Atwal, who attempted to assassinate a visiting minister from Punjab in 1986 and was convicted for it the next year, made his first public appearance after the row in India at the law office of Rishi Gill in Vancouver on Thursday. He made clear that he disavowed the Khalistani cause. Describing himself as almost 63 years old and a husband, father and grandfather, he said, “I again renounce any form of terrorism. I do not advocate in any sense for an independent Sikh nation.”

In the six-page statement, he said he was “sorry for any embarrassment” the incident had caused to “Canada, India, my community and my family” and made clear that he disavowed the Khalistani cause. Referring to the attempt on the life of the Punjab minister, Atwal said he had “nothing but regret and remorse for my actions”.

He mentioned he had planned his visit to India in December-January and that before leaving Vancouver, he reached out to Liberal MP Randeep Sarai to “see whether there was any possibility of attending the reception for the PM during his government visit to India”.

Atwal did not take any questions and sat stony faced as the Q&A began, and swiftly left the venue once the meet concluded.

In Delhi, external affairs ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar said on Friday that Atwal had travelled to India on “a valid visa” and had visited earlier too.

Gill responded to questions related to the charge by a senior Canadian official that Atwal had been planted by rogue elements in the Indian government to embarrass Trudeau, saying, “Mr Atwal at no point has considered himself or been approached by any Indian representative in such a fashion that he would act as an agent of some sort. There is some bandying about of the word informant. That is not correct.”

Atwal said he “attended a reception” before the invitation to the New Delhi reception was rescinded after details about his past became public and a media sensation. “When I asked to be considered to attend the reception I had assumed there would be no problems. No one had at any point indicated there would be any issues. On three previous occasions in 2013 and 2014, I had visited the House of Commons in Ottawa and been provided with a cleared visitor pass,” Atwal said in his statement. His lawyer said Atwal “assumed he was vetted properly” for the events he was invited to during Trudeau’s visit.

“There is no close relationship with any diplomats,” Gill said, when asked about Atwal’s ties to officials in the Indian consulate in Vancouver. Gill pointed out Atwal had visited India in 1999 and 2002, but was denied a visa in the mid-2000s. He was then given a one-month visa in 2017, followed by visas of three-month and oneyear validity. Referring to his attempt to assassinate the Punjab minister, Atwal said he had “nothing but regret and remorse for my actions and the suffering I caused to the victim”.

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Akalis ‘beat up’ Cong leader in Dharamkot

Saturday, 10/03/2018

Moga : Senior Congress leader and president of the Dharamkot Municipal Council Inderpreet Singh Bunty was allegedly beaten up by Youth Akali Dal leader Harpreet Singh, alias Ricky, and his aides at Dharamkot town today.



Will try to raise Johal issue with Modi: UK minister

Wednesday, 14/03/2018

LONDON: The Theresa May government on Tuesday said it will try to raise the issue of British national Jagtar Singh Johal – who is under arrest in Punjab since November 2017 – with Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he will visit London for the Commonwealth heads of government meeting in April.