India rebuts Canadian innuendo on invite to Khalistani Atwal

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Conservative MP Candice Bergen led off question period today by citing India's higher tariffs - now 60 per cent, up from 40 - as proof that Trudeau's troubled trip overseas and the ensuing controversy have resulted a breakdown in relations.

On last night's show, I reported on the Indian government rebuking Trudeau's excuse for Jaspal Atwal, a convicted Sikh terrorist, being invited to a gala hosted by the Canadian government during the Prime Minister's gaffe-filled visit.

Trudeau, speaking in Barrie, Ont., said the tariff increase doesn't specifically target Canada, and that he had productive discussions with Modi on increasing the predictability of future tariffs as well as on pest treatment issues with shipments to India.

Responding to a Conservative leader's question about the "allegations" made by a senior government security source, Trudeau had said, "When one of our top diplomats and security officials says something to Canadians it's because they know it to be true".

Earlier this, Prime Minister Trudeau did not refute the conspiracy theory that Indian government factions sabotaged his trip by approving the visa for Atwal. He said: "I want to again apologize for my role in recent unfortunate events".

And he accused Trudeau of using a senior civil servant to "spin a conspiracy theory that somehow the Indian government is trying to make the Liberals look bad".

Insisting that India had nothing to do with Atwal's presence at the Mumbai event or the invitation for the reception, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said any suggestion to the contrary was "baseless and unacceptable". India and Canada had agreed to jointly work on foodgrain fumigation that would enable the import of Canadian pulses free from pests. But contradictory explanations of who invited whom to what, and why, pushed the Atwal-invitation intrigue beyond the confines of question period and into the broader realm of global diplomacy.

Goodale was pressed to explain how both Sarai and rogue factions in the Indian government can be simultaneously held responsible for the Atwal fiasco.

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. 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".

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