Indian Govt Not Behind Sikh Separatist’s Presence, Says Canada’s Security Adviser
The presence of Jaspal Atwal was not the work of the Indian government, Canada’s National Security Adviser Daniel Jean said in his public testimony.
Canada’s National Security Adviser (NSA) Daniel Jean has given rise to a fresh controversy by saying that he never alleged that “rogue elements” in Indian establishment had planted convicted Sikh separatist Jaspal Atwal to embarrass Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during his trip to India.
Jean made the comments during his appearance before the House of Commons public safety and national security committee on Apr. 16. In the public testimony, Jean asserted that it “was definitely not the Indian government” and that he “never raised a conspiracy theory,” the National Post reported.
“What I said is that there was coordinated efforts to try to misinform and I said these were either private people — it was definitely not the government of India, and, if it was people from India, they were acting in a rogue way,” he said.
His alleged remarks about “rogue elements” was reported in the Canadian media based on a briefing he gave to the press. His statements were backed by Trudeau in the House of Commons on Feb. 27, prompting India to issue a strong denial. “When one of our top diplomats and security officials says something to Canadians it’s because they know it to be true,” Trudeau had then said.
The Indian Ministry of External Affairs issued a statement denying any government involvement, “including the security agencies.” Responding to the allegation that said Atwal was removed from the blacklist at a “convenient time,” India said that the Canadian resident, Atwal, convicted in 1987 of attempted assassination of a visiting Punjab minister, had been removed from the blacklist months earlier, and had traveled to India twice in 2017.
According to Jean, who did not reiterate these claims before the committee, the “faux pas” was committed when Randeep Sarai, Liberal Party MP from British Columbia, invited Atwal to two official receptions in honor of Trudeau in Mumbai and New Delhi. The second invitation was taken back after the controversy.
“What I said is that we had concerns that this seems to be coordinated misinformation by actors possibly to exacerbate the faux pas — the fact that an invitation that shouldn’t have been made had been made — in order to reinforce the notion that Canada is complacent on the risk of extremism, a perception that has been brought at times by Indian intelligence services and one that we do not share,” he said.
National security adviser Daniel Jean on India media briefing: "We didn't know who the actors were but we certainly know that there was misinformation. And Canadians had the right to know." pic.twitter.com/OP0SWiStzW
— CPAC (@CPAC_TV) April 16, 2018
Jean said he had called and emailed his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval to emphasize that Canada takes “the relationship with India very seriously” and strives “to be good security partners.”
Following his briefing, Opposition leader Andrew Scheer asked Trudeau to withdraw his statement and apologize to the government of India.
Former British Columbia premiere Ujjal Dosanjh said the NSA has “no credibility,” the Hindustan Times reported. Dosanjh said: “From my perspective Mr Jean should have tendered his resignation. He has absolutely no credibility. He tried to do the government’s bidding, which is unacceptable for a NSA. An NSA should speak truth to power and he only spoke for the power.”
After the testimony concluded, Atwal said he felt vindicated about his position that he was not an agent of India, the Hindustan Times reported. “I’ve been saying from day one, India has nothing to do with this, I have nothing to do with this,” Atwal said, reiterating his willingness to appear before the committee to give his version of events.