"Outreach": India's Stunning Admission After Row Over Khalistan Terrorist

Jaspal Atwal visited India on earlier occasions since January 2017, the foreign ministry said

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'Outreach': India's Stunning Admission After Row Over Khalistan Terrorist

Jaspal Atwal's presence at Canadian PM Justin Trudeau's event in India sparked a controversy

New Delhi: 

Highlights

  1. Terrorist Jaspal Atwal travelled to India on valid visa: Foreign Ministry
  2. All procedures were followed in giving him visa, government said
  3. Mr Atwal apologised for "embarrassing Canada and India"
Convicted Khalistani terrorist Jaspal Atwal, whose presence at an official event during Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's visit last month caused a big uproar, had travelled to India on a valid visa, the foreign ministry said today.

All procedures were followed in giving him visa, said Raveesh Kumar, the foreign ministry spokesman, adding that Jaspal Atwal had travelled to India before on earlier occasions since January 2017.

"Government of India has a conscious policy of outreach to the Indian diaspora, including misguided elements who in the past may have harboured anti-India sentiments which they have since renounced. There are well established procedures for grant of visa to foreign travellers which have been followed in this case as well," said Mr Kumar.

Last month, the foreign ministry had said it was trying to find out how Jaspal Atwal was allowed into India.

"I cannot immediately say how that happened. There are different ways of people coming into India, whether you are an Indian national, or OCI (Overseas Citizen of India) card holder. We are ascertaining details from our mission," Mr Kumar had told reporters on February 22.

Jaspal Atwal was a Sikh separatist active in the banned International Sikh Youth Federation when he was convicted of trying to kill then Punjab minister Malkiat Singh Sidhu in Vancouver in 1986, and was sentenced to 20 years.
 
justin trudeau india

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited India with his family in February (File photo)

Last month during Mr Trudeau's visit to India, Jaspal Atwal was seen in photographs standing with PM Trudeau's wife Sophie Trudeau and Canadian minister Amarjeet Sohi in the Mumbai event. Amid the outrage that followed, his invite to another official dinner in Delhi was cancelled by the Canadian High Commissioner.

Comments
Mr Trudeau had expressed disapproval of Atwal's presence in India and promised action against "the person responsible" for inviting him to two of his official events in India.  Canadian lawmaker Randeep Sarai had taken the blame, saying "I should have exercised better judgement".

Yesterday, Jaspal Atwal issued a statement, apologising for "embarrassing Canada and India". "I am sorry for any embarrassment this matter has caused to Canada, India, my community and my family," he said.

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