Atwal stirred controversy by recently causing embarrassment to Trudeau. Trudeau's wife was photographed with Atwal at a dinner reception in Mumbai. Atwal also said that he deserved the punishment he received.
Convicted Khalistan terrorist Jaspal Atwal, who stirred controversy by causing embarrassment to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during his recent visit to India, apologised on Thursday and said that he does not "advocate for an independent Sikh nation".
Justin Trudeau's wife Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau was photographed with Atwal at a dinner reception in Mumbai.
Once Atwal was spotted and identified, questions about his links to Trudeau and as to why he was invited in the first place began raining on Trudeau's parade.
Jaspal Atwal, who is known to have been associated with Khalisthani separatists outfit International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF), which is banned in both Canada and India as a terrorist outfit, was a convict in the attempted murder case of former Punjab Minister Malkiat Singh Sidhu in 1986, who was later assassinated in 1991.
As pictures of Atwal posing with Justin Trudeau's wife Sophie went viral, the Canadian PM found himself in an awkward spot as he had just expressed his support for a "united India" at a meeting with the chief minister of Punjab during his recent trip to India.
Atwal on Thursday said that he contacted Liberal MP Randeep Sarai asking if there was a chance for him to attend Trudeau's reception in India.
"When my attendance became the news story that brings us here today, I was completely shocked and devastated. When I asked to consider attending the reception, I had assumed there would be no problem. No one at any point indicated there would be any issue," Jaspal Atwal, 62, said at a news conference at his lawyer's office in Vancouver.
He added, "I am sorry for any embarrassment this matter has caused to Canada, India, my community and my family."
Renouncing any form of terrorism, Atwal further said that he deserved the punishment he received for his past crimes. "I have done my best to redeem myself and become someone who contributes to Canada and the Indian community. 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. India has also been reconciling with these same Sikhs who once sought independence. Canada is my home, India is my homeland."
Here's the six-page statement of Jaspal Atwal from Vancouver news conference:
Atwal said that he was one of many Sikhs who got caught up almost 40 years ago in the separatism movement. He said, "While nothing can excuse my conduct, I can only say that during that time in the early 1980s, I reacted to the Indian army storming the Golden Temple in a way that has caused much pain to many individuals."
Atwal ended his statement by saying that he accepts full responsibility and would live with the consequences of his past violent actions every day. "I have nothing but regret and remorse for my actions and the suffering I caused to the victim. What I did was described as an act of terror by the judge who dealt with this matter. I accept full responsibility."