Amarjeet Sohi thanks former PM Brian Mulroney for role in freeing him from Indian prison

​It's a hand Amarjeet Sohi has waited almost 30 years to shake. 

"I was able to express my gratitude and show my appreciation in person yesterday and felt so honoured to do so because it was a life-changing event for me," Sohi said Friday.

Former prime minister Brian Mulroney was in Ottawa Thursday to counsel Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's cabinet on Canada's relationship with the United States.

It was the first time Sohi, minister of infrastructure and communities and a former Edmonton city councillor, met Mulroney and the first opportunity to speak with him in person.

The story goes back to the 1980s. After arriving in Canada earlier in the decade, Sohi returned to India in 1988 as an activist, helping organize protests on land reform. 

But before any protests were organized, Sohi was arrested, accused of being involved in terrorist activities and imprisoned.

His parents, who were living in India, called Sohi's older brother and sister-in-law who were living in Edmonton at the time.

False charges

They called their member of parliament, David Kilgour, who took the case to the Mulroney cabinet.

The government agreed to press the Indian government to release Sohi, claiming he was being held on false charges.

"Through CSIS, through the Mulroney government, and David, they provided the right assistance to me, to my family and helping me come back to Canada," Sohi said.

"The Canadian government from the get-go got involved."

When he finished telling his story to Mulroney, Sohi was shocked by Mulroney's response.

"I was actually very surprised that he remembered. That he remembered me, that he remembered the incident and how his government in those late-80s was involved and how this matter of my arrest was discussed at cabinet table," Sohi said.

"I was very impressed by his memory."   

Sohi said the event affected how he thinks of Canada and its responsibilities in the world.

"I think our commitment to helping Canadians in circumstances where they are accused of something they are not involved in and our government's ability and commitment to assist them was demonstrated at that time by Mr. Mulroney's government and I'm really appreciative of that."