“I am sorry for the embarrassment this has caused”
Atwal is the Indo-Canadian, a former Sikh terrorist who was convicted of the attempted murder of an Indian cabinet minister visiting Canada, who caused a furor last month.
The photo of Atwal with Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, Justin Trudeau’s wife, at a gala in Mumbai on the family’s recent visit to India, was an international embarrassment that raised a lot of questions.
Atwal came forward today. accompanied by his lawyer, Rishi Gill, who fielded the questions, but Atwal began by reading his prepared statement.Listen
Atwal said, “I am sorry for the embarrassment this has caused”
The embarrassment stems from the fact that Atwal was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the attempted murder of Malkiat Singh Sidhu,
He was a member of the Sikh extremists in Canada who were very actin
The Indian cabinet minister who was visiting Canada privately in May 1986, when he was shot twice by Atwal and three co-conspirators. Sidhu survived.
After serving a portion of his sentence Atwal was released.
Today he said, “I have nothing but regret and remorse for my action,” and “I have done my best to redeem myself”.
He described himself as “a husband, a father and a grandfather”, and said “Canada is my home, India is my homeland.”
“I again renounce any form of terrorism” and said his action as a young man “is something I live with everyday.”
tHe also said he is tired of “being raked over the coals in the media”
And insists he does not pose a national security threat, and has continued to be politically active within the west-coast South Asian community for many years.
How did he get into the photo? How did he get to India? Why is he not on a no-fly list, particularly with links to the people behind the Air India bombing.
Air India, described as the largest mass murder in Canadian history, was the killing of 329 passengers on an Air India jumbo jet when it exploded over the North Atlantic in 1985.
Most of the passengers were Indo-Canadian.
Atwal says he was never put on a no-fly list and had indeed travelled back and forth between Canada and India on many occasions.
He had previous plans to be in India in December and January 2018, and when he heard the Prime Minister and his family were going to be there, he contacted Liberal MP Randeep Sarai to see if he could be included.
Ujjal Dosanjh, former Premier of British Columbia, a moderate Sikh, has been a victim of Sikh extremists himself, beaten up on one occasion in a parking lot that left him with a broken hand and eighty stitches to the head.
Interviewed by CBC today following the Atwal press conference, Dosanjh said, “He may be a changed man and that’s good for him and good for Canada” adding that Sikh extremism in Canada has faded.
“The movement for Kalistan is not as strong as it was many years ago…” Dosanjh said.
(With files from CBC)