India labels Trudeau's remarks 'baseless' as controversy reignites

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's ...

Posted: Mar 1, 2018 12:46 PM
Updated: Mar 1, 2018 12:46 PM

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's scandal-ridden trip to India may be over, but the controversy surrounding it refuses to go away.

Trudeau has become embroiled in a fresh spat, following his apparent endorsement of allegations that factions within the Indian government had actively sought to undermine his visit to the country last week.

The comments, made during Trudeau's first parliamentary session since returning to Canada, provoked a swift rebuke from the Indian government, with a spokesman for India's foreign ministry labeling the suggestion "baseless and unacceptable."

Trudeau's week-long India trip, which began on February 17, was marred by a series of poorly-judged missteps and unfortunate headlines, including persistent questions relating to his government's alleged indulgence of Sikh separatists.

The issue reached a head after it was revealed Jaspal Atwal, a militant Sikh separatist convicted of attempting to murder an Indian politician in Canada, had been invited to at least two Canadian government-linked events, including an official dinner with Trudeau at the Canadian High Commissioner's residence in New Delhi.

The dinner invitation, which was later withdrawn, sparked outrage in parts of India, where the issue of Sikh separatism remains a highly charged and emotive topic.

On Tuesday, Trudeau faced questions in parliament over reports in the Canadian press, sourced to an unidentified Canadian official, that the government of India had colluded to place Atwal at official events in order to embarrass Trudeau.

In response, Trudeau appeared to offer his support to the claims made in the reports. "When one of our top diplomats and security officials says something to Canadians, it is because they know it to be true."

The comments drew condemnation from Canadian opposition leader Andrew Scheer, as well as the Indian government.

"The Government of India, including the security agencies, had nothing to do with the presence of Jaspal Atwal at the event hosted by the Canadian High Commissioner in Mumbai or the invitation issued to him for the Canadian High Commissioner's reception in New Delhi. Any suggestion to the contrary is baseless and unacceptable," said India's Ministry of External Affairs in a press statement released Wednesday.

Canadian lawmaker and member of Trudeau's ruling Liberal Party, Randeep S. Sarai, had previously claimed responsibility for Atwal's official invitation. "I want to again apologize for my role in recent unfortunate events. Moving forward, I will be exercising better judgment," he said in a tweet posted Wednesday.

Atwal scandal

It remains unclear how Atwal, a known militant who in 1987 was sentenced to 20 years in a Canadian court for his part in the attempted murder of a visiting Indian state minister, managed to obtain a visa to enter into India.

Atwal was one of four men who ambushed and shot Malkiat Singh Sidhu, a then-member of Punjab's cabinet, who was visiting Canada for a relative's wedding, badly wounding him.

In the sentencing, the judge called the crime "an act of terrorism in order to advance a cause."

Canada is home to about 468,000 Sikhs, comprising 1.4% of its population. A small but influential number of those Sikhs support the idea of Khalistan, or the demand for a separate state for Indian Sikhs.

The separatist issue goes back decades in India, with one of the most important clashes occurring in 1984 when Indian Army soldiers stormed the Golden Temple in Amritsar, Sikhs' holiest site, in an effort to capture separatist leaders.

In retaliation, India's then-leader, Indira Gandhi, was assassinated by her two Sikh bodyguards. According to official figures, the resulting anti-Sikh riots saw 2,733 people killed in the Indian capital alone. Human rights activists say the death toll was significantly higher.

In 1985, the violence spilled over into Canada, when Sikh separatists bombed an Air India plane that had taken off from Toronto airport, killing all 329 people aboard, including numerous Canadians of Indian descent. The only person who was convicted in the bombing was released in 2017 by Canadian courts after two decades in jail.

An armed Sikh rebellion operated in Punjab, the heartland of the faith, from the 1980s to the early 1990s, when it was crushed. Today, pockets of support remain in parts of the Sikh diaspora, including in Canada.

Trudeau has actively courted the Sikh vote, previously proclaiming that his cabinet has more Sikhs than Modi's. Analysts say a particular area of contention during Trudeau's India visit, was his appearance at a Sikh event in Toronto last year, where separatist flags and posters depicting an extremist Sikh leader killed in the 1984 Indian Army operation were displayed.

Huntsville
Few Clouds
79° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 79°
Florence
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 79°
Fayetteville
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 75°
Decatur
Clear
78° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 79°
Scottsboro
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 80°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 17359

Reported Deaths: 618
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2191115
Jefferson1780102
Montgomery163238
Tuscaloosa73814
Marshall6879
Franklin5457
Lee54033
Shelby50319
Tallapoosa42364
Butler40217
Chambers35325
Walker3442
Elmore3398
Madison3274
Baldwin2839
Dallas2603
Morgan2511
Etowah24811
DeKalb2433
Lowndes23812
Coffee2291
Sumter2206
Autauga2164
Houston2094
Bullock2034
Pike1980
Colbert1782
Russell1670
Marengo1636
Lauderdale1612
Hale1598
Calhoun1543
Choctaw1518
Barbour1501
Wilcox1447
Clarke1422
Cullman1260
Randolph1257
Marion12111
St. Clair1181
Pickens1114
Dale1100
Talladega1093
Chilton1001
Limestone940
Greene944
Winston880
Covington771
Jackson772
Crenshaw763
Macon754
Henry742
Bibb721
Washington686
Blount611
Escambia573
Lawrence480
Geneva400
Conecuh391
Coosa381
Monroe372
Perry370
Cherokee373
Clay272
Lamar230
Fayette150
Cleburne141
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 22566

Reported Deaths: 364
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Davidson504062
Shelby4943111
Trousdale13924
Rutherford119623
Sumner88145
Hamilton79415
Bledsoe6071
Williamson55210
Putnam4795
Robertson4653
Tipton4423
Out of TN4184
Lake4140
Wilson4078
Knox3755
Bedford2834
Montgomery2693
Rhea2100
Hardeman1960
Madison1752
Loudon1430
McMinn14114
Macon1363
Cheatham1230
Bradley1221
Fayette1152
Cumberland1121
Dickson1090
Unassigned920
Blount913
Maury890
Sevier812
Washington750
Coffee730
Wayne640
Gibson631
Monroe622
Sullivan602
Hickman580
Lauderdale561
Franklin531
Greene502
Dyer500
Marion401
Anderson401
DeKalb370
Hamblen362
Smith341
White330
Hawkins332
Lawrence310
Grundy311
Haywood312
Marshall311
Obion301
Henry300
Jefferson280
Carroll271
Overton260
Meigs260
Weakley260
Lincoln250
Warren230
Cannon210
Perry210
Cocke200
Carter191
Campbell181
Morgan170
Jackson170
Crockett162
Roane160
Polk160
Johnson160
Henderson150
Hardin152
Sequatchie150
Humphreys131
Fentress120
McNairy120
Chester120
Giles120
Scott120
Stewart110
Claiborne90
Houston80
Grainger80
Clay70
Benton71
Decatur50
Unicoi40
Union40
Van Buren40
Lewis30
Pickett30
Moore30
Hancock10

 

 

Community Events