India tells Canada to withdraw 40 diplomats by Oct 10 as ties worsentext_fields
New Delhi: India has reportedly told Canada to withdraw around 40 diplomats from the country by October 10 amid worsening ties between the two nations.
According to the reports, New Delhi has conveyed to Canada that if the diplomats are not withdrawn by the deadline, they will lose their diplomatic immunity. There are more than 60 Canadian diplomats posted in India.
Last month, after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had alleged in Parliament that Indian intelligence agents may have been involved in the murder of Sikh pro-Khalistan hardliner Hardeep Singh Nijjar, the diplomatic relations hit an all-time low between the two nations.
Nijjar was shot dead outside a gurdwara in Surrey, British Columbia, on June 18 by masked gunmen.
Following Trudeau's allegations, both the countries had expelled a diplomat each. India had also termed Canada's allegations as "politically driven".
On September 21, while replying to questions related to a possible reduction of Canadian diplomats stationed in India, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi had said: "Yes, we've informed the government of Canada that there should be parity in strength in our mutual diplomatic presence. Their number is very much higher than ours in Canada... I assume there will be a reduction from the Canadian side."
India had suspended visa services in Canada until further notice with effect from September 21.
In a strongly-worded advisory, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in New Delhi referred to "threats" targeting Indian diplomats and sections of the Indian community that oppose the "anti-India agenda", and asked Indian nationals to avoid travelling to regions and potential venues in Canada which have seen such incidents.
However, the latest move could pose additional challenges for Trudeau, who faces domestic pressure to take action while also seeking support from Western allies keen on strengthening ties with New Delhi as a counterbalance to China.
Trudeau's accusation, linking India with the murder of Nijjar, who Trudeau's government insists was a peaceful activist and a religious leader, has jeopardised close connections India has been forging with several Western powers, especially the US.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Friday that Washington is "deeply concerned" about the allegations in the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, whom India had designated as a terrorist years ago.
US Ambassador to Canada David Cohen had told media that the Canadian Prime Minister’s allegation against India was based on "shared intelligence among Five Eyes partners".
During a discussion at the Hudson Institute in Washington D.C. on Friday, India's external Affairs Minister, S Jaishankar alleged that the Indian diplomats in Canada were unsafe and that they were also publicly intimidated.