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Jaspal Atwal controversy: Ruling Liberal Party blocks Conservative motion in Canadian Parliament seeking NSA Daniel Jean's testimony

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal Party thwarted a bid from the Opposition Conservative Party on Thursday to get National Security Advisor Daniel Jean to testify in Parliament for his assertion that rogue factions in the Indian government sabotaged Trudeau's India trip by securing a visa for Jaspal Atwal, reports said.

According to CTV, the Liberal Party used its majority in Parliament to block the Conservative motion, thus saving the Trudeau government from revealing details of what led Jean to blame India for Trudeau's faux pas.

File image of Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau. AFP

File image of Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau. AFP

According to AFP, Canadian-Indian businessman Atwal was sentenced in Canada to 20 years in prison for a 1986 assassination attempt on an Indian politician, as part of a violent campaign to establish an independent Sikh state of Khalistan.

Yet, he was invited to the Mumbai event as well as to dinner with Trudeau, although the latter invitation was rescinded when Canadian media pointed out Atwal's criminal past.

His invitation to Trudeau's events in India had raised furor both in India as well as in Canada.

The Trudeau government had then termed the invitation to Atwal "an error of judgment" on part of Canadian minister Randeep Sarai, although reports soon emerged citing a senior security official in the Canadian Prime Minister's Office that India had orchestrated it to embarrass the Canadian govt.

According to a CBS report, Trudeau stood by Jean's conspiracy theory, even after New Delhi termed the assertions as baseless. Notably, Trudeau initially dodged the questions raised by the Opposition, but later, in a response to a question in the Canadian Parliament, defended Jean by saying, "Our professional, non-partisan public service does high-quality work and when one of our top diplomats and security officials says something to Canadians, it's because they know it to be true."

Though Trudeau has maintained that he does not support Sikh extremists in the past as well as during his India visit, the Canadian media published several photographs of Trudeau with Atwal.

Sikhs number nearly 500,000 in Canada, accounting for roughly 1.4 percent of Canada's population, according to a 2016 census.

According to AFP, the Khalistan movement which was crushed in the 1990s, has resurfaced in Canada. The news agency quoted Ujjal Dosanjh, a prominent moderate Sikh and a former Canadian Liberal minister, as saying, "The movement was all but dead, but has resurfaced in Canada in the last few years partly because Canadian politicians have been careless in associating with these people."

With inputs from AFP

Updated Date: Mar 02, 2018 13:38 PM

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