India asks Canada to downsize diplomatic presence: Report
India 3 min read
India has asked Canada to withdraw over two dozen diplomats, citing Ottawa’s lack of cooperation in Khalistani terror investigations as the main reason, News18 reported, quoting official sources. Talks on the issue have reportedly been ongoing for almost two weeks, but there has been no definite outcome. This comes days after India suspended visas for Canadians. It also feels there is no requirement for a strong Canadian diplomatic presence in India amid the diplomatic row over the Khalistani issue.
Why does this story matter?
Diplomatic relations between New Delhi and Ottawa swooped to an all-time low last month after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused India of killing the Khalistani leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Surrey, British Columbia, on June 18. Notably, Nijjar was labeled a terrorist by India under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) in 2020. Moreover, India dismissed Canada’s claims, calling them baseless and politically motivated. The allegations, however, led to a diplomatic row, with both sides expelling each other’s envoys.
Canadian officials meet, promise, but don’t deliver: Indian officials
Reportedly, New Delhi wants Ottawa to recall its diplomats from India due to Canada’s non-cooperation in Khalistani terror investigations. However, the final decision in this regard will likely be made soon. “Their top officials (Canada’s) come and meet and promise, but don’t deliver,” Indian government sources told News18. This development means that New Delhi currently does not see any high-strength diplomatic requirement for Canada, especially after India suspended visas for Canadians.
India responds to Canada’s allegations
On September 21, reacting to Trudeau’s claims, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said there was a “degree of prejudice” in Canada’s accusations about Nijjar’s death. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar also assured that India was open to examining any specific details provided by Canada. On the other hand, Trudeau recently claimed that Canada had shared with India evidence of “credible allegations” of Indian agents’ involvement in Nijjar’s murder several weeks ago.
Visa suspension by India, demand for diplomatic parity
Moreover, the MEA has stressed the visa suspension for Canadians was not about travel restrictions. It was rather done over concerns of incitement of violence and the Canadian government’s inaction despite repeatedly raising concerns. Currently, only those with valid visas and Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cards can travel freely between the two countries. Moreover, Bagchi has reportedly pointed out that Canada has more diplomats in India than India has in Canada, suggesting there should be equal diplomatic representation.