The Centre’s Narendra Modi government on Friday made a stunning confession that the convicted Khalistani terrorist, Jaspal Atwal, had travelled to India on valid visa, issued by the Ministry of External Affairs.
The MEA spokesperson, Raveesh Kumar, admitted that Atwal had traveleld to India on many occasions since January 2017.
“Government of India has a conscious policy of outreach to the Indian diaspora, including misguided elements who in the past may have harboured anti-India sentiments which they have since renounced. There are well established procedures for grant of visa to foreign travellers which have been followed in this case as well,” Kumar was quoted by NDTV as saying.
Atwal’s presence at an official event during Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s India visit last month had caused a huge controversy. BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP, Subramanian Swamy had used the fiasco to make an argument against the Canadian government and its alleged soft spot for Khalistan movement.
He wad said, “Our mistake that we didn’t check his background. And as for the Canadians that say they don’t support Khalistanis, how did they allow it?”
Kumar’s confession on Friday comes in sharp U-turn to what he had said on 22 February while interacting with the media. He had said, “I cannot immediately say how that happened. There are different ways of people coming into India, whether you are an Indian national, or OCI (Overseas Citizen of India) card holder. We are ascertaining details from our mission.”
Trudeau, for his part, had called the event unfortunate adding that Atwal never should have received an invitation by the High Commission.
Meanwhile, after several days of silence, Atwal finally addressed the situation at his lawyer’s office in Vancouver on Thursday. Reading from a prepared statement, he said he was “shocked and devastated” when controversy exploded over his attendance at the event.
“I had assumed there would be no problem. No one at any point indicated there would be any issue,” said Atwal. “I am sorry for the embarrassment this matter has caused to Canada, India, my community and family and friends,” Atwal was quoted by Star.com.