The MEA expressed concern about what it sees as continued “interference” by Canadian diplomats in India’s “internal matters,” exacerbating the two countries’ diplomatic tensions.
MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi during a press briefing today. ( Image Source : ANI )
India has reiterated its demand for the number of Canadian diplomats stationed in the country to be reduced, citing the need for “parity” in terms of diplomatic presence in each other’s countries. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Thursday expressed concern about what it sees as continued “interference” by Canadian diplomats in India’s “internal matters,” exacerbating the two countries’ diplomatic tensions.
The diplomatic dispute between India and Canada has recently escalated, resulting in New Delhi suspending visa operations for Canada and formally requesting a reduction in the Canadian diplomatic contingent based in India, over the killng of Khalistani separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Canada.
“Given the much higher presence of diplomats or diplomatic presence here…and their continued interference in our internal matters, we have sought parity in our respective diplomatic presence. Discussions on how to accomplish this are ongoing … Given that Canadian diplomatic presence is higher, we would assume that there would be a reduction,” Arindam Bagchi, Spokesperson, MEA said at a press briefing Thursday.
In response to questions about whether fewer Canadian diplomats would result in fewer visas issued by the Canadian High Commission in India, Bagchi stated, “It’s up to the Canadian side, who they choose to staff the High Commission with…Our concerns are related to ensuring parity in diplomatic presence.” He emphasised that India’s primary goal is to create a welcoming working environment for Indian diplomats in Canada and to achieve diplomatic parity.
India had previously expressed concerns about Canada’s alleged “diplomatic interference in internal matters” and insisted on diplomatic staff strength parity. The tensions were heightened when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused the Indian government of being involved in the fatal shooting of Hardeep Singh Nijjar. Trudeau claimed that his country’s national security officials had reason to believe that “agents of the Indian government” were behind Nijjar’s death. Nijjar, a terrorist in India, was shot on June 18 outside a Gurdwara in Surrey, British Columbia. However, India has categorically denied these allegations, calling them ‘absurd’ and ‘motivated.’
It is to be noted that Canada has yet to provide any public evidence to back up its claims about Nijjar’s death. Nonetheless, Trudeau has stated his desire to “work constructively with India” in response to these allegations, implying a willingness to engage in diplomatic dialogue to resolve the ongoing tensions.