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Khalistani terrorist's invite to Trudeau dinner nixed: Top 10 developments

The Canadian High Commission on Thursday confirmed that the invitation given to a Khalistani terrorist for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's reception had been rescinded

BS Web Team  |  New Delhi 

Jaspal Atwal with Justin Trudeau's wife Sophie
Jaspal Atwal, a convicted Khalistani terrorist who was active in the banned International Sikh Youth Federation, photographed with Canadian PM's wife Sophie Trudeau at an event in Mumbai on 20 Feb. Photo: @ANI

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Khalistani problem continues to dog him during his India visit, amid reports emerging that convicted Jaspal Atwal, who was active in the banned International Sikh Youth Federation, posed with Trudeau's wife Sophie Trudeau at an event in Mumbai on February 20.

Jaspal was also invited to a formal dinner with the Canadian Prime Minister, hosted by the Canadian High Commissioner, on Thursday in New Delhi. Atwal's dinner invitation has reportedly been cancelled.  

The development comes at a time when Trudeau's pro-approach is being criticised by many, including Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, who raised the issue with the Canadian prime minister during Wednesday's meeting.

Here are the top 10 developments surrounding the matter:

1) Jaspal Atwal's dinner invitation cancelled: Canadian High Commissioner Nadir Patel has cancelled tonight's dinner invitation to Jaspal Atwal, a convicted Patel was hosting the dinner for the visiting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his delegation.  

ALSO READ: Canada does not support separatist movement: Justin Trudeau to Punjab CM

2) Atwal was convicted for attempted murder of a Punjab minister: Jaspal Atwal was convicted for the attempted murder of Punjab minister Malkiat Singh Sidhu on Vancouver Island in 1986.

At the time of the 1986 shooting, he was a Sikh separatist active in the pro-International Sikh Youth Federation. He and three others were convicted in 1987 of trying to kill Malkiat Singh Sidhu. 

3) List of nine Canada-based operatives given to Trudeau: Punjab Chief Minister on Wednesday handed Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a list of nine Canada-based operatives allegedly involved in promoting radicalism as the 'Khalistan' issue featured prominently in the talks between the two leaders in Amritsar. 

The nine Canada-based operatives are allegedly involved in target-killings and other hate crimes in Punjab, including financing and supply of weapons for terrorist activities, an official said. urged Trudeau to initiate stern action against such elements. 

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4) Trudeau assures Canada does not support separatist movement: The Canadian premier assured the Punjab chief minister that his country did not support "any separatist movement in India or elsewhere," said Raveen Thukral, the chief minister's media advisor.  

The "categorical assurance" from Trudeau came after sought the Canadian prime minister's cooperation in cracking down on fringe elements, constituting a minuscule percentage of Canadian population, he added. 

Citing the separatist movement in Quebec, Trudeau said he had dealt with such threats all his life and was fully aware of the dangers of violence, Thukral said.

"Really happy to receive categorical assurance from Canadian PM @JustinTrudeau that his country does not support any separatist movement. His words are a big relief to all of us here in India and we look forward to his government's support in tackling fringe separatist elements," Singh tweeted after the meeting.

5) Amarinder Singh, Trudeau break the ice: Earlier, Punjab Chief Minister Captain had refused to meet Trudeau, claiming the Canadian Prime Minister's Cabinet members supported the formation of Khalistan, a separate Sikh state.

During Canadian Defence Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan's visit to India in April last year, called the Canadian MP a Khalistani sympathiser. The Punjab Chief Minister felt Sajjan was advocating for the formation of

6) issue to blame for cold shoulder: Neither the Prime Minister nor External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted a welcome message for the visiting Canadian Prime Minister. Trudeau and family were in Agra on Sunday. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had welcomed Netanyahu to Agra; but he wasn't there for Trudeau. The frostiness has reportedly much to do with Harjit Sajjan and Amarjit Sohi, two Sikh ministers in Trudeau's Cabinet, who have been issuing statements in support of Khalistani elements in Canada

The Canadian media has been reportedly upset that their prime minister, currently on a week-long visit to India, has been snubbed by the Narendra Modi government.

There were stories in the Canadian media that Trudeau's perceived support for Sikh separatists might be the reason for the "snub". The Sikhs in Canada wield significant political clout and Trudeau's Cabinet has four Sikh members. 

ALSO READ: Justin Trudeau in India: Modi govt denies any 'snub'; top 10 developments

7) 'It's about human rights, not Khalistan': Canadas first Cabinet minister of Indian origin, Herb Dhaliwal, has said that the focus of the on-going visit of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to India has been derailed by the issue. "It is very unfortunate that the media in India has overblown this issue. This has shifted the focus away from trade -- which is what the two countries should be discussing," Dhaliwal, who in 1993 became the first Indian to be elected as an MP in the Western world, told IANS.  

Dhaliwal, who served as Canada's Minister for Revenue and Natural Resources from 1997 to 2003, said the sticking issue between the two countries is "about human rights and not Khalistan". He said, "When I was the Cabinet minister, I had met Prime Ministers (I K) Gujral, Manmohan Singh and (A B) Vajpayee and raised the issue of punishment for those behind the 1984 riots. I had told them it is about human rights and they had no objection."

Dhaliwal said the vast majority of Sikhs in Canada have nothing to do with

8) Pakistan trying to revive movement: In December 27 last year, the government informed the Rajya Sabha that operatives of Pakistan's espionage agency ISI are making efforts through moral and financial support to revive pro-elements for anti-India activities.

Certain elements in Pakistan are providing funds to separatists for secessionist and terrorist activities in Jammu and Kashmir as well, Minister of State for Home Affairs Hansraj Gangaram Ahir had said in response to a question. 

"Inputs indicate that ISI operatives are making efforts towards moral/financial support to pro-elements for anti-India activities as well as to revive militancy in Punjab," he had said. 

9) Amarinder fears ISI conspiracy: In November last year, Punjab Chief Minister claimed that efforts were being made to revive Khalistani elements with backing from Pakistan's spy agency ISI and batted for a tough law such as the Punjab Control of Organised Crime Act (PCOCA) to contain such forces.

The Punjab government had claimed to have achieved major success in solving targeted killing cases, including that of RSS leader Jagdish Gagneja, with the arrest of five people, and had alleged that a major conspiracy to fan communal disturbance and destabilise the state was being hatched by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

10) Pro-slogans raised in Golden Temple complex in 2017: Last year in June, Pro-slogans were raised by Sikh hardliners in the premises of the Golden Temple complex on the 33rd anniversary of Operation Bluestar.  

A bandh was also observed in the holy city on the call given by radical Sikh outfit Dal Khalsa on the anniversary of the military operation that was carried out in 1984 to flush out heavily-armed terrorists holed up in the Golden Temple. 

First Published: Thu, February 22 2018. 12:21 IST