Jaspal Atwal

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Jaspal Singh Atwal (born 1955) is an Indo-Canadian businessman convicted of attempted murder for his role in the 1986 attempt to assassinate Punjab minister Malkiat Singh Sidhu.[1] A Khalistani sympathizer and member of the now-banned militant group International Sikh Youth Federation, he was also involved in the 1985 attack of Ujjal Dosanjh, a strong opposer of the Khalistani movement who would later become the 33rd Premier of British Columbia.[1] In 2010, he was accused of being part of in an automobile fraud case but was ruled out by the Supreme Court of Canada.[1] In February 2018, Atwal gained national attention when he was invited by Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau to a reception during a visit to India and would eventually have his invitation revoked the next day. That same year, he was arrested for issuing death threats to a local radio in British Columbia.[citation needed]

Background[edit]

Jaspal Atwal was originally from Pharala near Phagwara district in Punjab, India.[2] He left for Canada at a young age and claimed to study at British Columbia Institute of Technology.[3] He visited India once in the past few years, with a Facebook post of him visiting the Taj Mahal.[2] He is involved in construction business and is currently associated with Media Wave Communications, which runs a Surrey-based online radio station.[3] He was also involved in numerous liberal campaigns and was seen taking pictures with hockey star Wayne Gretzky and other liberal politicians such as Sukh Dhaliwal, Justin Trudeau, and Michael Ignatieff.[4]

Controversies[edit]

Assassination attempts[edit]

In 1985, Atwal was charged in an attack on Ujjal Dosanjh, a strong opposer of the Khalistan movement, but was later acquitted.[1] Dosanjh stated that Atwal attacked him with an iron bar over his opposition to Sikh extremism.[5] The attack left Dosanjh severely injured with 80 stitches and a broken hand.[5] Senior Punjab journalist Baljit Balli, who met Atwal during a radio talk show at Surrey, said that Atwal had claimed that he was not involved in any attack and that he was being wrongly charged.[2] Dosanjh would go on to be the 33rd Premier of British Columbia.[2] On May 25, 1986, Atwal was among four men involved in attempting to assassinate Punjib minister Malkiat Singh Sidhu.[1] He was convicted for murderer and was sentenced to 20 years in jail, where he served 5 years before being paroled.[4] At the time of the attempted assassin, Sidhu was visiting Vancouver for a wedding and was forced off an isolated road near Gold River when Atwal arrived.[6] Sidhu was struck twice and survived the shooting, however, he was assassinated in 1991 five years later at his home.[6] At the parole, Atwal admitted he was the shooter that day.[6]

Justin Trudeau visit to India[edit]

Atwal sparked controversy when he was invited by Justin Trudeau to a reception during a visit to India.[1] He was seen photographed with Sophie Grégoire Trudeau and Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi at an event in Mumbai and was invited to the event by Randeep Sarai.[1] Ujjal Dosanjh criticized Trudeau for inviting Atwal by stating "Do you have no shame?" and stated that the relations between Canada and India were rock bottom.[7][4] Atwal's invitation was rescinded the next day and Trudeau stated that he should have never been invited.[8][9] He was removed from India's travel blacklist several months ago, while the Indian government stated that he wasn't a security threat.[10] Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer accused Trudeau of "wining and dining" with an attempted murderer in a Thursday tweet.[5] Atwal stated that he has a "friendly relationship" with Trudeau and that he "stayed away" from him to avoid embarrassment.[11] On March 8, 2018, he apologized for the "embarrassment" he caused when he attended the event and told reporters that he took full responsibility for his past actions.[12] A new committee of reporters and senators delivered its first classified report regarding the affair with 18 findings and 6 recommendations concerning allegations of foreign interference in Canadian political affairs.[13]

Death threats against a British Columbia host[edit]

On April 25, 2018, Atwal was arrested at his home and charged for making threats to a local British Columbia host.[14] According to documents, he faces charges for "uttering threats to cause death or bodily harm".[14] His lawyer Marvin Stern stated that he made threats outside a Punjabi radio station in the Vancouver suburb of Surrey, British Columbia.[14] The day after his arrest, he made an appearance in provincial court, but was released without cash or surety.[14] He is expected to face trial on June 7 and appear at the Surrey Provincial Court to plead not guilty.[15][16]

Involvement in Canadian politics[edit]

In 2012, Atwal was invited to a budget speech of 35th Premier of British Columbia Christy Clark as a guest.[2] In addition, he backed her leadership and was among supporters who accorded her a welcome in Surrey.[17] His presence in the legislature caused embarrassment and a complaint was made to the speaker.[17] Clark's reaction was similar to Wai Young when she received help from Ripudaman Singh Malik, who was acquitted in the Air India Flight 182 bombing.[17] Clark insisted that she didn't know who Atwal was, even though he was invited to her budget speech and shook her hand.[18] After the controversy, liberal party director Tariq Ghuman resigned.[2] Atwal was also a member of the Surrey Fleetwood-Port Kells Liberal riding association of the Federal Liberal Party.[19] In a January 14, 2013 post on Facebook, Atwal was seen in a photo with a young Justin Trudeau.[2] Atwal is a long-time supporter of the liberal party and a former donor to the federal gifts with deep ties to the party that pre-date Trudeau's tenure as prime minister.[20] Official records showed that he donated $500 to the liberal party on April 9, 2011.[20] In May 2015, the Toronto Sun obtained two photos of him with Trudeau, with one at a campaign event in Vancouver and another one outside a house or restraint.[20] He was also seen taking pictures with former liberal leader Michael Ignatieff and interim leader Bob Rae.[21][22]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g "What we know about Jaspal Atwal, the attempted murderer invited to dine with Trudeau". 22 February 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Jaspal Singh Atwal: The "terrorist" who isn't actually on the radar of anti-terror agencies in India". 2018-02-22.
  3. ^ a b "Khalistan separatist Jaspal Atwal migrated to Canada at a young age". The Hindu. 22 February 2018 – via www.thehindu.com.
  4. ^ a b c "India-Canada relations at 'rock bottom' after Trudeau invitation error, ex-Liberal cabinet minister says - The Star".
  5. ^ a b c "Former B.C. premier 'speechless' about invite to Sikh extremist Atwal" – via The Globe and Mail.
  6. ^ a b c "Surrey man convicted in 1986 B.C. terrorist shooting poses with Trudeau's wife, cabinet minister in India". 22 February 2018.
  7. ^ "Former Liberal cabinet minister blasts Trudeau over attempted murderer's Delhi dinner invite - CBC Radio".
  8. ^ "Trudeau cancels invite to Sikh separatist". BBC News. 22 February 2018 – via www.bbc.com.
  9. ^ ANI (22 February 2018). "Khalistani terrorist Atwal should never have been invited: Justin Trudeau". Business Standard India – via Business Standard.
  10. ^ "Convicted Sikh extremist had been removed from India's travel blacklist, Star told - The Star".
  11. ^ "Jaspal Atwal says he stayed away from Trudeau event in India to avoid embarrassing PM - The Star".
  12. ^ "Jaspal Atwal apologizes for 'embarrassment' of his presence at Trudeau event in India - The Star".
  13. ^ "New security oversight committee delivers its Atwal affair report to Trudeau". 31 May 2018.
  14. ^ a b c d "Jaspal Atwal charged with uttering threats against B.C. radio host" – via The Globe and Mail.
  15. ^ "Jaspal Atwal case: Date for trial to be set on June 7". 26 May 2018.
  16. ^ "Jaspal Atwal to plead not guilty to charges of threatening radio host in B.C."
  17. ^ a b c "Gurpreet Singh: Jaspal Atwal episode reveals why Canadian political establishment should look hard at itself". 4 March 2012.
  18. ^ "Christy Clark insists she doesn't know attempted-murderer Jaspal Atwal". 5 March 2012.
  19. ^ "Who is Jaspal Atwal? Here are 5 facts about the Khalistani Terrorist in stir over Justin Trudeau event invite".
  20. ^ a b c "MALCOLM: Would-be assassin has longtime ties to Liberals". 23 February 2018.
  21. ^ Coyne, Andrew (February 23, 2018). "Coyne: The novelty of L'affaire Atwal is only that they did it on Indian soil".
  22. ^ Bolan, ,Kim (2001-11-24). "Gunman part of federal Surrey riding executive".

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