Jim Eglinski, ex-Mountie MP recalls responding to shooting of Indian minister in 1986

By Laine Mitchell (Twitter: @Laine_Mitchell)
March 1, 2018 - 11:01am

Yellowhead MP Jim Eglinski is recounting his experience as a first responder to the 1986 assassination attempt of an Indian cabinet minister and is expressing frustration as to why a man involved in the attack was invited to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's India trip. 

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

Upon his arrival he found a vehicle that had the windows smashed out of it and inside were three people, Indian politician Malkiat Singh Sidhu and his wife in the back seat along with the driver. 

"She was terrified and screaming, and he was hurt and not making much sense. They had been attacked 15 minutes earlier when four men in another vehicle forced them off the road, smashed the windows and hit everyone with pipes and hammers," said Eglinski. "And then one guy fired shots at the Mr. Sidhu. He faked he was dead, then the four fled."

Eglinski says he assisted the Sidhu's with their injuries until an ambulance arrived, with Mr. Sidhu being shot twice and everyone in the vehicle being hit at least once with a pipe. 

He then went to go towards Campbell River to follow up backwards when he found out that the vehicle has been stopped at a roadblock near that city two hours away. 

Jaspal Atwal was arrested and eventually convicted of attempted murder.

The events of that day have been imprinted in his memory and 32 years later Eglinski says he was quite surprised to see Atwal in photos with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, and Canada's Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Amarjeet Sohi.

"The name was familiar, then I saw the gold river incident and then I was shocked I thought Jesus why would he be associating with this guy, why in the heck would they even have him in India with him when the attack by Mr. Atwal was against India. It really blew my mind," 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.

Eglinski stood up during question period in Ottawa on Wednesday and demanded to know why the would-be killer was invited to meet Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and got quiet emotional while doing so. 

"My emotions was out of frustration for the thousands of hours that we put into that investigation. To see all that work thrown aside and disregarded as irrelevant, I think that's what I was most upset about thinking about all the work that went into that file," said Eglinski. "And then to see it so blatantly disregarded for a photo op, it's not right. The prime minister needs to apologize to India and to Canadians." 

In Eglinski's eyes the fact that Atwal was even invited to India to attend government events shows a complete lack of judgement by the PMO. 

"It clearly shows a lack of leadership, a lack of respect for Canadians, the Indian community and for India itself. What ideology says that the senior leaders of our government should be associating with a well known former terrorist?"

The Yellowhead riding includes Drayton Valley, Hinton, Edson, Rocky Mountain House, Jasper and Grande Cache. 

Drayton Valley RCMP weekly brief Feb 22-Mar 1

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