Former Sikh Extremist Charged With Threatening Radio Host in Vancouver

Jaspal Atwal allegedly made the threats outside a Punjabi radio station in the Vancouver suburb of Surrey.


Canadian businessman Jaspal Atwal, who was at the center of a controversy between the two countries during Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit, was charged for uttering threats against a local radio host in Vancouver, according to local reports.

Atwal, a British Columbia resident of Indian origin, faces one count of “uttering threats to cause death or bodily harm,” the reports cited court documents as showing. He allegedly made the threats outside a Punjabi radio station in Surrey, a Vancouver suburb, on April 23.

His is out on bail, and is scheduled to appear in court on May 24, according to court documents.

Atwal, a former member of a banned Sikh extremist group, was previously convicted of attempted murder for trying to assassinate Indian Cabinet minister Malkiat Singh Sidhu while he was visiting Vancouver Island in 1986.

According to his lawyer, Marvin Stern, Atwal “vehemently denies making any threats” to the radio jockey.

“It was a conversation outside, in the parking lot of the radio station,” Stern added.

According to Stern, Atwal was arrested at home on April 25. He made an appearance in provincial court in Surrey the next day, but “was released on his own recognizance without cash or surety.”

If he doesn’t show up in court on May 24, he could be liable for $1,000, the lawyer said.

Atwal had kicked up a controversy when his photos with Canadian ministers, and with the Prime Minister’s wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, surfaced at an official reception in Mumbai in February. His presence invited severe criticism in India, and was debated in the Canadian parliament for weeks.

Atwal, accused of being a Khalistan supporter, later issued a statement about the visit, and  apologized for embarrassing the Canadian government. The Opposition party made the Liberal Party agree to let Trudeau’s security advisor, Daniel Jean, testify before the House Public Safety and National Security Committee over the incident.

Jean had earlier said that Atwal’s presence in India was because rogue elements in the Indian government or private citizens wanted to undermine Trudeau and wanted to portray him as being soft on Sikh extremism. He later issued a clarification over his statement after India denied the innuendos.

Atwal has “answered any controversy over the governmental trip to India,” Stern told the Globe and Mail, adding,  “That situation is long over and has nothing to do with this charge.”

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