In the latest development of an escalating diplomatic feud between India and Canada, India has reportedly asked Canada to send back 41 of its diplomats by October 10th, according to a recent publication in the Financial Times. The strain in diplomatic relations has been attributed to Canada’s suspicions over India’s alleged involvement in the assassination of terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Sikh separatist leader and Canadian national, in June. Nijjar was previously declared a “terrorist” by India.
India has categorically denied any involvement, terming the allegations as baseless, the incident has amplified the tensions between the two countries. Sources privy to the situation, as mentioned in the Financial Times, have indicated that India might strip the diplomatic immunity of those diplomats who choose to stay beyond the stipulated October 10th deadline. Canada currently has a delegation of 62 diplomats stationed in India. If India’s request is adhered to, this number will see a drastic reduction.
Canadian Premier Justin Trudeau, when questioned about the alleged expulsions, opted for a measured response. While he didn’t outright confirm the reports, he emphasized that Canada does not intend to heighten the conflict. “We approach this situation with grave seriousness and aim to maintain a responsible and constructive dialogue with the Indian government,” Trudeau shared with the media.
The foreign ministries of both India and Canada remained tight-lipped, refraining from immediate comment. Earlier comments from Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar highlighted India’s concerns over the perceived “climate of violence” and an “aura of intimidation” faced by Indian diplomats in Canada. India has consistently expressed its disquiet over the active presence of Sikh separatist factions in Canada.