Atwal’s Lawyer Schools “Unethical” And Racist Mainstream Media For Anti-Sikh Community Propaganda And Says The “Usual Suspects” Should Stop Their Anti-Sikh/Punjabi Community Nonsense!
At a hastily organized press conference in downtown Vancouver, Atwal’s lawyer Rishi Gill came out swinging, saying why is the media using the same anti-Sikh/Punjabi community “Suspects” to do anti community propaganda, which many Sikhs say is Racist as its focusing negatively on the whole community from the long ago actions of a few people. Gill called out the Global News Reporter for being unethical in keep asking nonsensical questions when he advised all of the media that he would be answering for Atwal and those who have a problem can leave the press conference.
SURREY – Jaspal Atwal, who was thrown into international headlines for a crime he committed 32 years ago and for which he paid his debt to society, was consoling and accepting full blame for the act he committed and which he said he has made peace with and has become a productive member of society with even his homeland India forgiving him and letting him visit the country of his birth.
But at a hastily organized press conference in downtown Vancouver, Atwal’s lawyer Rishi Gill came out swinging, saying why is the media using the same anti-Sikh/Punjabi community “Suspects” to do anti community propaganda, which many Sikhs say is Racist as its focusing negatively on the whole community from the long ago actions of a few people.
Gill called out the Global News Reporter for being unethical in keep asking nonsensical questions when he advised all of the media that he would be answering for Atwal and those who have a problem can leave the press conference.
An international controversy erupted after Atwal was invited to an event with Justin Trudeau in India but Atwal said in a prepared statement that he has been "shocked and devastated" by the ensuing media attention.
Atwal read a prepared statement saying he takes full responsibility for his past – including the attempted murder of a visiting Indian official in 1986 – and now renounces terrorism in all forms.
"I have nothing but regret and remorse for my actions and the suffering I caused to the victim," said Atwal, who served several years in prison. "I have done my best to redeem myself and to become someone who contributes to Canada and the Indian community."
The retired Surrey, B.C. resident insisted he has moved on from the extremist politics that led to his terrible crime. He also said he no longer advocates 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," he said. "India has also been reconciling with these same Sikhs who once sought independence."
Atwal told reporters he still remains politically active doing outreach for the Indian community, however, and has previously appeared at events with NDP, Liberal and Conservative politicians without incident. He said he did not intend to cause a controversy when he asked Liberal MP Randeep Sarai for an invitation to a banquet with the Prime Minister in February.
"When my attendance became the news story that brings us here today I was completely shocked and devastated," he said. "I assumed there would be no problems. No one had at any point indicated there would be any issues."
He did not take questions after making his statement, however, and his lawyer would not explain why Atwal would not have expected to attract media attention following a headline-making appearance in the B.C. legislature six years ago, reported CTV News.
Atwal was given an invitation to watch the unveiling of the provincial budget in 2012, and the subsequent outcry led to the resignation of a BC Liberal party staffer.
But despite Atwal's past, his lawyer Rishi Gill stressed that Atwal is no longer considered a security threat, and suggested it is "fear mongering" to continue labeling him a terrorist. India granted Atwal three entry visas last year and another in 2018, the lawyer added.
"Mr. Atwal presents no security threat to this country or any other country," Gill said. "India has let him back into the country to visit … people have to move past things."
Phil Gurski, a former strategic analyst for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, told CTV he doesn't believe Atwal posed a "clear and present danger" to Trudeau during his India trip, but his past still makes him a problematic party guest.
"I think it's more of a reputational image thing," Gurski said. "It's really hard to say to the Canadian public, 'It's OK, I did that 35 years ago, I'm now a different man.' Terrorism is terrorism, and it is seen differently [than other crimes]."
The controversy erupted last month after a photo emerged of Atwal posing with the Prime Minister's wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau. It remains unclear who originally leaked the image, and Atwal did not shine any further light on the issue Thursday.
"We don't know," Gill said. "Certainly somebody was trying to embarrass somebody, I'll put it that way."
Shortly after the photo became public, the Canadian government rescinded Atwal's invitation to the dinner with the Prime Minister, which he did not ultimately attend.
In his statement, Atwal apologized for any embarrassment his involvement in the tour caused.
Though Sarai has taken responsibility for Atwal’s invitation, many have demanded more accountability from the government, questioning how it was even possible that no staffers or law enforcement had raised concerns about his invitation.
Atwal said this was not his first visit to India since his release from custody, adding he travelled to his homeland twice in 2017 and received a visa from the Indian government without trouble.
"At all times I visited India lawfully and with the full permission of the Indian government," he said.
A senior government official with knowledge of the prime minister's security protocols suggested to reporters in a background briefing, arranged by the Prime Minister's Office, that Atwal's invitations were arranged by factions within the Indian government, reported CBC News.
Conservatives later identified the official as Daniel Jean, Trudeau's national security adviser.
When asked about the notion that his client had been invited by rogue elements in the Indian government, Gill said he'd like the official who made that suggestion to go on the record with formal accusations.
"Mr. Atwal at no point has considered himself, or been approached in such a fashion by any Indian representative, that he would act as an agent of some sort. There was some bandying about of the word informant — that is not correct, he absolutely denies that," he said.