February 22, 2018 1:41 am
Updated: March 26, 2018 4:59 pm

Convicted former member of Sikh extremist group ‘never should have received an invitation’: Trudeau

WATCH ABOVE: Trudeau blames invite of convicted Sikh extremist group to event on member of parliament


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Jaspal Atwal never should have received invitations for two events during Trudeau’s state visit to India.

“Obviously we take this situation extremely seriously,” he told reporters in New Delhi. “As soon as we found out we rescinded the invitation immediately.”

Atwal was convicted of attempted murder in the 1986 shooting of an Indian politician in B.C. and is a former member of the International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF), according to media reports.

WATCH: Indian news report describes Trudeau invite to convicted Sikh extremist ’embarrassing’

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The ISYF has been as a listed terrorist group in Canada since 2003, for engaging in assassinations and bombings against Indian political figures as well as moderate members of the Sikh community.

Atwal had been invited to a large function at the Indian High Commissioner’s house Thursday night. That invitation was rescinded after CBC and Vancouver Sun reports came out, which also featured photos of Atwal at a different event on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s state visit Tuesday night.

WATCH: Trudeau faces tough question after Sikh extremist receives invite to event

In the photos, he’s seen posing with Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi. The PMO is not commenting on whether Atwal directly met Trudeau on Tuesday, or how he ended up invited to the Bollywood event in the first place.

Aspal was invited to these events by Surrey Centre MP Randeep Sarai. Sarai is one of 14 MPs travelling with the prime minister in India.

“I alone facilitated his request to attend this important event. I should have exercised better judgment, and I take full responsibility for my actions,” Sarai said in a statement Thursday.

“I apologize without reservation for my role in this situation, which has become an unfortunate distraction from the work, achievements, and objectives of the prime minister and his team during this historic trip to India.”

WATCH: Trudeau tours Delhi mosque as controversy swirls around India trip

While Trudeau said Sarai “has and will” take responsibility for his actions, the MP is not being ousted from the Liberal caucus.

This “mistake” does not play well for Trudeau, who has been pushing his message of support for a united India and trying to shut down allegations his government has been soft on Sikh separatism.

The Atwal issue comes on the heels of a very successful day for the prime minister in Punjab, where most of India’s Sikh minority lives. Thousands came to welcome him at the Golden Temple, the holiest site in the Sikh faith, and he appeared to win over Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.

Singh has accused Canadian cabinet ministers, and specifically Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, of being “Khalistani sympathizers.” (Referring to Sikh separatists pushing for an independent state of that name.)

READ MORE: Trudeau, Sajjan assure Indian officials there are no Sikh separatists in Canadian cabinet

Watch below: On Feb. 21, 2018, Justin Trudeau reiterated his denial of Sikh separatists being in his cabinet and condemned extremism.

After a meeting between Singh, Trudeau and Sajjan on Wednesday, Singh called Trudeau “a very wonderful person,” and that he believed Trudeau listened to his concerns.

Singh said he gave Trudeau a list of names to investigate, people linked to Sikh separatism in Canada.

“There is money coming from other countries, including Canada, to fund this ruckus,” he told reporters after the meeting.

“I certainly think we made it very, very clear, our stance is in favour of a united India,” Trudeau said after the meeting on Wednesday.

Reporters travelling with the prime minister asked for him to comment on the Atwal issue Thursday, but were told there would be no schedule change to accommodate a media availability.

The prime minister’s state visit to India wraps up on Saturday. He is scheduled to meet with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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