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Atwal apologises for embarrassing Canadian PM Trudeau in India

Press Trust of India  |  Ottawa 

Jaspal Atwal, a convicted terrorist, has apologised for the "embarrassment" he caused to Canadian and by attending an event during his visit to and asserted that he no longer supported the independence movement.

The controversy surrounding Atwal erupted last month after he was photographed with Trudeau's wife and other senior officials at the event in as part of Trudeau's first state visit to

He was also invited to the dinner reception at the residence of the Canadian High in during Trudeau's week-long visit. The invitation was later withdrawn.

Atwal, 62, was a separatist active in the banned when he was convicted for attempting to murder in in 1986. He was sentenced to 20 years in jail. He was released on parole in the early 1990s.

After several days of silence, Atwal finally addressed the situation at his lawyer's office in yesterday.

Reading from a prepared statement, he said he was "shocked and devastated" when controversy exploded over his attendance at the event.

"I had assumed there would be no problem. No one at any point indicated there would be any issue," said Atwal.

"I am sorry for the embarrassment this matter has caused to Canada, India, my community and family and friends," Atwal was quoted as saying by the

Atwal said he has "nothing but regret and remorse" for his role in the 1986 attack on Sidhu, adding he is no longer a supporter of the Sikh independence movement.

"I, like the vast majority of Sikhs who once advocated for this cause, have reconciled with the nation of India," he was quoted as saying by

"I have nothing but regret and remorse for my actions and the suffering I caused to the victim. What I did was described as an act of terror by the who dealt with this matter. I accept full responsibility. I do not disagree with the court's conclusions," he said.

According to the Sun, Atwal was also charged but acquitted in the 1985 beating of Ujjal Dosanjh, a vocal opponent of Sikh extremism who later became premier and a federal Cabinet

Meanwhile, Indian-origin said in a statement that he was responsible for the invitation to Atwal.

Atwal told reporters that he was travelling to this year, and asked Sarai if he could attend an event with Canadian politicians during Trudeau's visit.

"I was eventually provided invitation by the Canadian and attended a reception," Atwal said.

He also said that he has associated with politicians from Canada's three major political parties.

Atwal's lawyer, Rishi Gill, did not allow reporters to ask his client questions during yesterday's press conference, the reported.

Atwal never illegally entered India and has visited a number of times since his release from prison, Gill said.

Gill said Atwal went through the "proper channels" to get an invitation to the event, adding those who feign ignorance about his criminal past are being disingenuous.

"He was a political embarrassment to the prime minister, that's obviously accepted ... but let's make sure this is on the record Mr. Atwal presents absolutely no security threat to this country or any other country," Gill added.

Atwal said this was not his first visit to India since his release from custody, adding he travelled to his homeland twice in 2017 and received a visa from the without trouble.

"At all times I visited India lawfully and with the full permission of the Indian government," he claimed.

Opposition parties in have also demanded an explanation after reports emerged that an unnamed Canadian blamed factions in the for Atwal's presence at the event a claim that called "a conspiracy theory that is unsupported by any proof," the report said.

Sarai has also apologised for inviting Atwal and has resigned as the Liberal Party's

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, March 09 2018. 14:55 IST