NEW DELHI: Facing ire over the invitation to convicted Khalistani terrorist Jaspal Atwal, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that the invite should never have been sent. "We take this extremely seriously. He should never have received an invitation. As soon as we received the information, we rescinded it. A member of Parliament had included this individual," the Canadian PM clarified.
A controversy erupted after Atwal, Sikh separatist convicted of attempting to murder of Punjab minister Malkiat Singh Sidhu in Vancouver in 1986, was invited to an event that was held in Mumbai where Trudeau was present. Atwal was photographed at the event alongside Trudeau's wife Sophie Gregoire, according to Canada`s public broadcaster CBC.
The Canadian embassy rescinded his invitation but refused to comment on whether Atwal was part of Trudeau's official delegation. "We do not comment on matters relating to the PM's security," it said.
Atwal was a member of the International Sikh Youth Federation, an organisation outlawed in India and Canada, among other places, that seeks an independent Sikh state of Khalistan.
Meanwhile, Canadian Member of Parliament (MP) Randeep S Sarai has taken responsibility for inviting the pro-Khalistani terrorist to Prime Minister Trudeau's reception dinner in New Delhi, which is scheduled to take place on Thursday.
"I alone facilitated his request to attend this important event. I should have exercised better judgment, and I take full responsibility for my actions," Sarai said in a statement, which Canadian journalist Abigail Bimman shared on Twitter.
The Canadian journalist further added that Trudeau said Sarai "has and will" take responsibility for inviting Atwal, adding that, Sarai will not be kicked out of caucus.
The Ministry of External Affairs, on the other hand, is trying to ascertain how a visa was issued to the Khalistani terrorist. "Let us not presume things and decide how he managed to come. This is something which we are trying to find out. In due course we will be able to come up with a reason that how he managed to come in India," ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar said.