Former Sikh militant sorry for Canadian PM Trudeau's embarrassment in India

Jaspal Atwal, who was convicted in assassination attempt, to hold news conference in Vancouver

Atwal 'shocked and devastated' by controversy over PM's India tour

"He has visited India on earlier occasions since January 2017", MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said during the weekly press briefing here.

Justin Trudeau's wife Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau was photographed with Atwal at a dinner reception in Mumbai.

For the unversed, Atwal was invited to dine with Prime Minister Trudeau, during his visit to India in February, at a formal event hosted by Canadian High Commissioner to India Nadir Patel.

The invitation was later withdrawn.

Atwal, a former member of a banned Sikh separatist group, was convicted of the attempted murder of an Indian cabinet minister in 1986. He had completed his 20 years of sentence in a Canadian prison for his act. He was released on parole in the early 1990s.

Meanwhile, after several days of silence, Atwal finally addressed the situation at his lawyer's office in Vancouver on Thursday. Addressing a press conference, Atwal stated, "When my attendance became the news story that brings us here today, I was completely shocked and devastated". He said he "assumed there would be no problems" with his presence at the event. "I am sorry for the embarrassment this matter has caused to Canada, India, my community and family and friends", Atwal was quoted as saying by the Star.com. I do not advocate in any sense for an independent Sikh nation. I, like the vast majority of Sikhs who once advocated for this cause, have reconciled with the nation of India."His invitation embarrassed the visiting delegation, which had been trying to allay concerns it was too soft on separatists who support a Sikh independence movement, called the "Khalistan movement".

"I have nothing but regret and remorse for my actions". He said. "I want to again stress that this awful event that happened in the past is something I live with every day and I take complete responsibility for". "I do not disagree with the court's conclusions", he said.

Atwal said Thursday, "like many other Sikhs, (he) became caught up in a movement supporting an independent Sikh nation".

Before he recently left for a trip to India, Atwal said he contacted Liberal MP Randeep Sarai to see if there was a chance for him to attend a reception with Trudeau. He also said that he has associated with politicians from Canada's three major political parties.

Atwal read from a prepared statement and refused to answer questions from reporters, leaving those to his lawyer.

"(Atwal) reached out to Mr. Sarai very casually and said, 'If there's a possibility of me going I would like to go.' That was the end of it", Gill added.

"I like the Sikh community and Indians generally and have moved on from issues divided us nearly 40 years ago", said Atwal.

"There are well established procedures for grant of visa to foreign travelers which have been followed in this case as well", he added.

Liberal MPs thwarted a recent bid by Conservatives that would have required Trudeau's national security adviser to explain his assertion that rogue elements in the Indian government sabotaged the prime minister's trip to India.

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