Justin Trudeau’s state visit to India has been overshadowed by revelations that a businessman convicted of trying to assassinate an Indian minister in the 1980s was invited to several official events.
The week-long tour of the subcontinent has been dogged by suggestions the Canadian prime minister is being snubbed by his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, over his government’s alleged indulgence of Sikh separatists aiming to create an independent state within India for the religious minority.
The Canadian high commission in Delhi confirmed on Thursday it had sent, and has now rescinded, an official dinner invitation to Jaspal Atwal, a former member of a Sikh organisation regarded by India as a terrorist group.
Atwal was convicted in 1986 of trying to kill Malkiat Singh Sidhu, then a minister in the Punjab government, who was on vacation in Canada at the time. Sidhu survived the attempt but was later assassinated in India.
Photos were circulated on Thursday showing Atwal posing with Trudeau’s wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, at an event in Mumbai earlier this week.
Trudeau told journalists he took the matter “very seriously”. “The individual in question should have never received an invitation,” he told reporters in Delhi. “The person and department responsible will take full responsibility for his actions.”