Canada, April 16
Jaspal Atwal, the man at the centre of a controversy that led to a chill in India-Canada ties, has accused the Justin Trudeau government of “lying” in framing him as an agent planted by “rogue elements” within the Indian establishment to embarrass the Canadian prime minister during his visit to India in February.
“The result will be that there will be a reckoning between the falsehoods and the truth and the reality will emerge. And Prime Minister Trudeau and his people will have to apologise to the Indian government and to Jaspal Atwal,” he said during a nearly hour-long telephone interview, conducted mainly in Hindi. The Trudeau government had been left red-faced after a photograph emerged showing Atwal with the prime minister’s wife Sophie Gregoire at an official reception during the trip. Atwal, who had been convicted in 1987 on charges related to the attempted assassination of a visiting minister from Punjab state, was also invited to an official reception for Trudeau in New Delhi but the invitation was later rescinded. A senior Canadian official, later revealed to be National Security Advisor Daniel Jean, had briefed Canadian reporters and floated the “rogue elements” theory, which was supported by Trudeau on multiple occasions, including in the House of Commons.
“They thought they would lie and escape but they are now trapped. End of the day, the result will be seen, whether it takes a month or two months or year: They are lying,” Atwal said in an interview that was combative and contrary to the contrite statement he issued earlier, during which he had apologised for causing embarrassment to Trudeau.
“They are caught in their own lie and they will have to apologise and that person (who made the allegation) will lose his job.”
Atwal alleged Jean’s accusation was based on “misleading” information provided by a member of the Punjabi media in Vancouver area, who was an “agent” of Canadian intelligence. He also said he was photographed at the Mumbai reception with Trudeau, who had hugged him and greeted him warmly: “When I went on the stage, he knew me, He said, ‘Hey Jas, how’re you doing?’”
While photographs of Atwal with the prime minister’s wife and federal minister Amarjeet Sohi have appeared in the media, he provided similar smiling pictures with two other ministers, Navdeep Bains and Harjit Sajjan. Atwal said he originally never planned on attending the Mumbai event but did so at the request of a friend.
Canada, April 16