A convicted Sikh terrorist who spent years in prison for trying to assassinate an Indian cabinet minister in 1986 was invited to join Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for dinner during the leader’s state visit to India.
Jaspal Atwal, convicted of attempted murder, had already joined Trudeau and his retinue at a reception in India. The prime minister’s office apparently had no knowledge of Atwal’s past and did not rescind the invitation to dinner until notified by CBC News of the former terrorist’s infamy.
The Indian government wants to know how Atwal even obtained a visa to enter the country.
The incident is the latest in a gaffe-plagued trip by Trudeau that has featured multiple photo-ops of the prime minister and his family posing in traditional Indian clothing, as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has declined to meet with Trudeau.
Trudeau was criticized for announcing a billion dollar trade deal that turned out to be much better news for India and provided a trade deficit for Canada.
Trudeau told reporters Thursday that he regrets the invitation error and he is taking it “seriously.”
“The individual in question never should have received an invitation and as soon as we found out we rescinded the invitation immediately,” said Trudeau. “Obviously we take this situation extremely seriously.”
One of Trudeau’s own Members of Parliament (MP) from British Columbia, Randeep Sarai, issued the invitation to Atwal. Trudeau said the MP “has and will assume full responsibility for his actions.”
The Conservative opposition is aghast over the international embarrassment and diplomatic faux pas. Ontario MP and foreign affairs critic Erin O’Toole told The Daily Caller Thursday that this latest incident highlights a troubling tendency for Trudeau to be ill-prepared.
“This shows incredibly poor judgment by the prime minister and is a major setback to our relationship with India and reputation around the world,” O’Toole said.
“We want an apology from the PM and a direct accounting on how his office decided upon meetings – from Joshua Boyle to this incident it is not clear whether the PMO is conducting proper reviews.”
The incident is particularly difficult for Trudeau because he has been trying — unsuccessfully — to convince the Indian government that his federal cabinet does not harbor Sikh separatists.
Atwal was an agent with the International Sikh Youth Federation, a recognized terrorist organization in both Canada and India. He and three other Sikh terrorists shot and serioulsy wounded Indian politician Malkiat Singh Sidhu in 1986.