NEW DELHI: India slammed as "baseless and unacceptable" on Wednesday a comment by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that former Khalistani terrorist Jaspal Atwal was given a visa as a section of the Indian government wanted to embarrass his government, Times of India has reported.
Opposition MPs questioned Trudeau in parliament on Tuesday about invitations issued to Atwal - convicted of attempting to assassinate a Punjab minister in 1986 - to attend two events with him in India.
National security adviser Daniel Jean's media briefing last week suggested that Atwal's presence was arranged by "factions within the Indian government who want to prevent PM Narendra Modi from getting too cosy with a foreign government they believe is not committed to a united India". "Does the PM agree with those allegations?" asked opposition leader Andrew Scheer.
In a sharply worded comment, MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, “Let me categorically state that 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.”
The Indian government has taken a dim view of Jean’s briefing that “rogue elements” in the Indian establishment had let in Atwal into the country.