New Delhi has reportedly threatened to revoke diplomatic immunity for certain officials who remain beyond an October 10 deadline
India has told Canada to recall around 40 diplomats from the country by October 10, amid a deepening diplomatic row between the two nations, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday. New Delhi has also warned it will revoke diplomatic immunity for those who remain in India after the deadline, the report claimed.
An unnamed source told the outlet that Ottawa has over 60 diplomats posted in India, which is significantly higher than the Indian presence in Canada. A large consular section is required in India to cater to the relatives of the roughly 1.3 million Canadians who claim Indian heritage, the source suggested.
India has been seeking a reduction in the number of Canadian diplomats in the country ever since Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau triggered a diplomatic row by linking "agents of the Indian government" to the killing of Sikh separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
Nijjar, who was designated as a terrorist by India in 2020, but was living freely in Canada, was gunned down by unidentified men in Surrey, British Columbia on June 18. Trudeau has not provided public evidence to back up the allegations, while India has dismissed the claims as "absurd" and "politically motivated."
Days after Trudeau made the allegations in September, Indian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said that New Delhi had informed the Canadian government that there should be parity "in strength and rank equivalence in our mutual diplomatic presence." "Their numbers here [in India] are much higher than ours in Canada. The details of this are being worked out but I assume there will be a reduction," Bagchi added.
During a recent visit to New York for the UN General Assembly, Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said New Delhi was forced to suspended its visa operations in Canada because of the "threat of violence." Jaishankar added that New Delhi is willing to look at any "relevant and specific" information Ottawa may want to share regarding its allegations.
According to Jaishankar, India's grievances with Canada revolve around its "permissiveness in regard to terrorism, extremism, and violence." Days after Trudeau made his allegations, officials in New Delhi accused Canada of hosting at least nine separatist organizations that have openly espoused threats of "assassination, promoted secessionist agendas, and engaged in targeted killings within India."
Canadian state media CBC previously reported that Ottawa's allegations are based on information from the country's diplomats and intelligence provided by members of the 'Five Eyes' alliance, which includes Canada, the UK, the US, Australia, and New Zealand.
Meanwhile, the US has repeatedly called on India to cooperate with the Canadian government in its investigation into the killing of Nijjar. Responding to a question on the issue, US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said on Monday that the White House remains "in close coordination" with its Canadian colleagues, and asserted that the US has engaged with the Indian government "on a number of occasions" to urge it to cooperate.
Following Trudeau's allegations, both countries expelled senior diplomats in tit-for-tat measures. Ottawa and New Delhi have also issued new advisories for travelers from their respective countries amid the stand-off, with India going a step further by suspending visas for Canadian citizens due to "security threats disrupting work at its missions" in Canada.