Alberta MP recalls responding to assassination attempt of Indian diplomat in 1986

Alberta MP Jim Eglinski remembers the day he responded to Jaspal Atwal's assassination attempt of an Indian diplomat on a rural B.C. road in 1986. Now he's wondering how the convicted attempted murderer was cleared to dine with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Jaspal Atwal, convicted in 1986 attack, invited to dine with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in India

Convicted attempted murderer Jaspal Atwal appeared in photos with Sophie Grégoire Trudeau and Liberal cabinet Minister Amarjeet Sohi on a government trip to India this month. (Jaspal Atwal/Facebook)

Alberta MP Jim Eglinski remembers the day he responded to Jaspal Atwal's assassination attempt of an Indian diplomat in B.C. more than 30 years ago.

"There were only two (RCMP) members at that detachment and we both responded immediately," said the Yellowhead Conservative MP.
Yellowhead MP Jim Eglinski is a former RCMP officer. (Jim Eglinski)

On May 25, 1986, Eglinski was the RCMP detachment commander in Gold River, B.C., when he hurried to a shooting on a rural logging road near the town.

"When we arrived we found a vehicle on the side of the road with the windows smashed out," he said.

They saw three people in the car; a driver in the front seat and Indian politician Malkiat Singh Sidhu and his wife in the back seat. Sidhu had been shot.

"Four men came at them with hammers and one was carrying a handgun. They went directly toward minister Sidhu, firing, I believe, five rounds at him," said Eglinski.

"He was smart enough to play dead and (the attackers) then left."

After helping the victim into an ambulance, Eglinski took off after Atwal, before learning the getaway vehicle was stopped at a roadblock near Campbell River, B.C., a city two hours away from the scene of the attack.

Atwal was arrested and eventually convicted of attempted murder.

'I was shocked'

Now, 32 years later, Eglinski was startled to see Atwal in pictures with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, and Canada's Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Amarjeet Sohi.
Sophie Trudeau and Jaspal Atwal pictured at a film industry event with Indian film stars in Mumbai Feb. 20. (Name withheld by request)

"I said, 'That's the guy from Gold River.' I couldn't believe they were associating with him," Eglinski said.

Atwal was a member of an illegal Sikh separatist group in 1986 when the attack happened. He was also charged, but not convicted, in a 1985 attack on Ujjal Dosanjh, who later became B.C. premier and a federal Liberal cabinet minister.

Earlier this week Surrey Centre Liberal MP Randeep Sarai took responsibility for inviting Atwal to Trudeau's receptions in India. Sarai apologized and stepped down as chair of his party's Pacific Caucus.

Eglinski says he's concerned about the judgment to include Atwal in any government event.

"They had to know that this would cause some kind of a stir," he said.