The failed assassin who hobnobbed with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s retinue during a state visit to India says he and Trudeau are friends. Jaspal Atwal, convicted of trying to assassinate an Indian cabinet minister in 1986, told the Canadian Press on Saturday that he has had a relationship with the prime minister for at least the last decade.
“We know each other. He knows my name. He’ll come and say, ‘Hey Jas, how you doing?’ We have a good relationship. I never see any problem,” Atwal told CP. “But now he says, ‘Oh, Jaspal’s not supposed to be here, this and that.’ It surprised me.”
The claim further muddies the waters of Trudeau’s widely-mocked trip to India that was characterized by photo ops in Indian dress, trade deals that never happened and the stunning revelation that Atwal had attended at least two receptions while linked-up with Trudeau’s official visit party.
Liberal Member of Parliament Randeep Sarai, who also travelled with Trudeau, has taken responsibility for the diplomatic blunder, saying he invited Atwal on the trip — but Atwal also told CP that this wasn’t true either.
“I don’t know why he’s taking all the responsibility. He had nothing to do with that,” Atwal said. “The high commissioner, they’re the one giving the invitation. Everyone’s name goes through CSIS [Canadian Security Intelligence Service] and the RCMP [Royal Canadian Mounted Police.”]
The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has been locked in damage control ever since Atwal caused an international embarassment for the Canadian government. A senior official from Trudeau’s office — who insisted on anonymity — told reporters on Friday that “rogue elements” in the Indian government actually invited Atwal to crash the prime minister’s receptions.
The PMO is denying Atwal’s contention of friendship with Trudeau.
“That is not true,” Trudeau press secretary Cameron Ahmad told CP, when asked about Atwal’s claims, further commenting on the alleged meeting in Atwal’s vehicle as something he was not aware of.
“It is not true, these claims that come from Mr. Atwal.”