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Posted at: Dec 5, 2018, 10:10 AM; last updated: Dec 5, 2018, 9:41 PM (IST)

Canadian panel raps RCMP for ignoring Atwal as security threat

Canadian panel raps RCMP for ignoring Atwal as security threat
Jaspal Atwal with Sophie Gregoire Trudeau at an event in Mumbai on February 20. Photo tweeted by ANI

Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, December 5

Canada’s National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians has rapped the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) for not sharing the information about the plans of Canadian of Indian origin Jaspal Atwal to join an official event of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Indian visit in February with his security network.

The high-level committee comprising Canadian senators and MPs has also held the RCMP responsible for not sharing the criminal record of Atwal which could have been a potent security risk to the Prime Minister, his family and his delegation.

The abridged report of the committee was released on Tuesday. The RCMP, the report indicated, had admitted that it had made a mistake by not providing the PM’s security set-up with advance inputs that Atwal had plans to join the PM’s official trip to India.

Atwal—a Canadian of Indian descent who was convicted of trying to kill then Punjab cabinet minister Malkiat Singh Sidhu during his Vancouver visit in 1986—had travelled to India in his private capacity. But there was a controversy when he was spotted at an official event of Trudeau at the Canadian High Commission in New Delhi.  

Atwal had sprung a big surprise in Canada and India as he figured among the 423 guests whose names were cleared by the Canadian PMO. A former member of a banned militant group, he had reportedly secured his invitation through BC Liberal MP Randeep Sarai.

The report virtually indicted the RCMP for having ignored Atwal being a security risk given his criminal record and history, saying the force conducted its security checks on an “ad hoc basis”.

On its part, the RCMP asserted that it was capable of assessing and reducing the risk to the PM and to cope with varied possible threats. The RCMP also informed the high-level committee that Atwal’s criminal history notwithstanding, he was not considered a threat.

The committee report suggested that the RCMP had come to know on February 13--three days prior to Trudeau’s leaving for India—that Atwal could be joining Trudeau’s Indian event. Subsequently, it had sifted through criminal record of Atwal but failed to share it with Trudeau’s security set-up and the Integrated National Security Team.

Justin Trudeau had landed in India on February 17 along with his family and a high-powered delegation for their week-long visit. He however, was virtually ‘cold-shouldered’ by the Indian government for his alleged support to the Sikh separatists.

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