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The dinner invitation, which was later withdrawn, sparked outrage in parts of India, where the issue of Sikh separatism remains a highly charged and emotive topic.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

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 26273

Reported Deaths: 1126
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin8867641
Ramsey3252140
Stearns205014
Nobles15625
Anoka148878
Dakota141464
Washington68034
Olmsted67211
Kandiyohi5111
Rice4833
Scott4602
Clay44129
Mower4062
Wright3392
Todd3361
Sherburne2482
Carver2322
Benton1823
Steele1670
Blue Earth1480
Freeborn1420
Martin1325
St. Louis11814
Pine930
Nicollet8811
Lyon811
Winona8015
Cottonwood790
Watonwan780
Crow Wing774
Unassigned7511
Carlton750
Otter Tail730
Goodhue715
Chisago641
Polk612
Itasca5610
Dodge530
Chippewa521
Morrison480
Le Sueur461
Meeker460
Douglas450
Becker430
Jackson420
Murray400
McLeod390
Isanti360
Waseca270
Pennington230
Rock230
Mille Lacs231
Faribault200
Swift190
Beltrami180
Wabasha180
Fillmore171
Sibley160
Brown162
Norman150
Pipestone120
Marshall120
Kanabec121
Wilkin113
Cass112
Aitkin110
Wadena100
Pope100
Koochiching90
Big Stone80
Redwood70
Renville70
Mahnomen61
Lincoln60
Yellow Medicine60
Grant40
Traverse40
Red Lake40
Lac qui Parle30
Clearwater30
Roseau30
Hubbard30
Houston20
Kittson10
Lake10
Stevens10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 20767

Reported Deaths: 583
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk4541137
Woodbury283737
Black Hawk177548
Buena Vista9971
Linn97179
Dallas94025
Marshall91218
Wapello62814
Johnson6189
Muscatine56541
Crawford5472
Tama41029
Scott38010
Dubuque35521
Louisa34911
Pottawattamie31110
Sioux2980
Jasper26917
Wright2120
Washington1958
Warren1661
Plymouth1462
Story1261
Allamakee1204
Mahaska9912
Poweshiek928
Henry722
Bremer706
Boone700
Des Moines671
Clarke660
Clinton651
Taylor640
Webster621
Hamilton610
Guthrie543
Cedar491
Benton431
Monroe415
Shelby370
Cherokee370
Jones370
Jefferson350
Marion350
Osceola340
Clayton343
Cerro Gordo331
Iowa330
Dickinson330
Buchanan330
Madison292
Lee290
Fayette280
Sac280
Davis280
Harrison260
Monona250
Clay250
Lyon240
Winneshiek240
Emmet240
Lucas222
Hardin210
Grundy200
Mills200
Delaware191
Humboldt191
Floyd191
Franklin170
Appanoose173
Hancock160
Butler161
Ida150
Greene150
Pocahontas150
Page140
Kossuth140
Keokuk140
Audubon131
Jackson130
Carroll130
Chickasaw130
Howard120
Cass120
Winnebago110
Montgomery91
Adair90
Union90
Van Buren90
Adams70
Palo Alto70
Calhoun60
Ringgold40
Mitchell40
Fremont40
Worth30
Wayne10
Decatur10
Unassigned00
Rochester
Clear
69° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 69°
Mason City
Clear
71° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 71°
Albert Lea
Overcast
66° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 66°
Austin
Broken Clouds
72° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 72°
Charles City
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 68°
Another round of severe weather tonight
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Pandemic food benefits available to families

Image

Sean Weather 6/5

Image

Covid-19 Cases on the Rise

Image

Becoming a better ally

Image

Giving your best

Image

Coronavirus attacking your blood vessels?

Image

Young Protester's impact on police reform

Image

How important are school resource officers?

Image

Graffiti on Rochester trail

Image

Expedited breast cancer treatment

Community Events