Former Sikh extremist Jaspal Atwal refuted Thursday suggestions from the Canada’s Liberal government that “rogue elements” in the Indian government ensured he attended several of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s official events while he toured the country last month.
Atwal, convicted of the attempted murder of an Indian politician, dwelt on two themes during his Thursday Vancouver media event: his remorse for his crime and to clarify how he managed to appear at so many official functions while Trudeau was in India.
Saying he was no longer a supporter of Sikh separatism, Atwal insisted he had “nothing but regret and remorse” for the 1986 attack. “I, like the vast majority of Sikhs who once advocated for this cause, have reconciled with the nation of India,” he told reporters.
He also said his invitation to Trudeau’s dinner at the Canadian High Commission in India came with the compliments of Liberal Member of Parliament Randeep Sarai.
“When my attendance became the news story that brings us here today, I was completely shocked and devastated,” he said.
Atwal’s lawyer, Rishi Gill, reiterated that story, saying the former extremist did everything according to protocol and was never approached by anyone from the Indian government about attending any of Trudeau’s events.
That account flies in the face of an explanation from Trudeau’s national security advisor, Daniel Jean, who told reporters that “rogue elements” in the Indian government arrangead for Atwal’s presence at the Trudeau’s events in order to embarrass the Canadian government.
Trudeau himself backed Jean’s story when the prime minister returned from India and faced angry questions from the official opposition Conservatives.