Nijjar killing row: Canada evacuates its diplomats to Southeast Asia: Report

Nijjar killing row: Canada evacuates its diplomats to Southeast Asia: Report

Business News/ News / Nijjar killing row: Canada evacuates its diplomats from India to Southeast Asia following deadline over staff reduction

Canada has evacuated majority of its diplomats working in India to South Asian countries like Kuala Lumpur or Singapore as deadline to reduce diplomatic staff approaches, media reports state as reported by news agency PTI. Amid India Canada row over killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, the Indian government had given Ottawa reportedly until October 10 deadline to reduce Canadian diplomatic staff in the country to a level on par with the number of Indian diplomats in Canada.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had sparked a diplomatic crisis last month after claiming that there were ‘credible allegations’ linking Indian government agents to the June murder. India has dubbed the assertion ‘absurd’ and retaliated with a slew of restrictive measures. Canada has yet to provide any public evidence to support the claim about the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar. The country has said it wants to “work constructively with India” regarding the allegations.

Also Read: Indians seeking Canada visa may soon face delays as diplomats are asked to leave

India has rejected the allegations as “absurd” and “motivated” and expelled a senior Canadian diplomat in a tit-for-tat move to Ottawa’s expulsion of an Indian official over the case. Trudeau had earlier also said that his country was not “looking to escalate the situation with India” and insisted that Ottawa wants to remain on the ground in New Delhi to help Canadians.

Also Read: Canada’s Justin Trudeau sparks another row after winking at new speaker: Watch video

Earlier reports pegged the number of diplomats that would have to leave at 41, but the sources CTV News spoke with said the ask is specific to one of parity, as reported by PTI.

“A majority of the Canadian diplomats working in India outside of Delhi have been evacuated to either Kuala Lumpur or Singapore,” the report said as quoted by PTI.

Global Affairs Canada, the department that manages the country’s diplomatic and consular relations, had previously stated that “with some diplomats having received threats on various social media platforms,” it was “assessing its staff complement in India.”

Also Read: US-India ties affected amid Nijjar killing row with Canada? Washington says…

“As a result, and out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to temporarily adjust staff presence in India,” the department said, just days after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused the Indian government of being involved in the murder.

India on Thursday asserted that Canada must reduce its diplomatic presence in the country to achieve parity in strength and alleged that some of the Canadian diplomats are involved in interfering in New Delhi’s internal matters, signalling a continuing slide in the ties between the two nations over the killing of Nijjar.

External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said in New Delhi discussions on the modalities to arrive at mutual diplomatic presence are going on and gave a clear indication that India will not review its position on the issue. He had added that as Canadian diplomatic presence in India is much higher compared to India’s strength in Canada, it is assumed that there would be a reduction.

“Our focus is on ensuring parity in diplomatic strength,” he said.

The spokesperson, however, did not reply to questions on reports that October 10 is the deadline set by New Delhi for Ottawa to reduce the number of its diplomats in India.

“I would not like to get into the details of diplomatic conversation,” he said. It is learnt that the number of Canadian diplomats in India is around 60 and New Delhi wants Ottawa to reduce the strength by at least three dozen.

Asked whether Canada has shared with India any information or evidence relating to Nijjar’s killing, Bagchi referred to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar’s recent remarks that if any specific or relevant information is shared with New Delhi, it is open to looking at it.

With India’s demand to reduce the Canadian diplomatic staff in the national capital, Former Indian diplomat KP Fabian has said that parity has been brought in to put pressure on Canada.

While speaking to news agency ANI, he said, “What India has said is that there should be parity. There are 21 Indian diplomats in Canada and there are 62 Canadian diplomats in India. So parity means, 41 diplomats will have to leave India by October 10…otherwise the excess number, they will be declared persona non grata.”

“In other words, in retaliation for Canada expelling 1 diplomat, India is planning to expel 42 diplomats. This is the essence of the picture. The disparity is not always applied. So, parity has been brought in to put pressure on Canada. It is possible that there is a way out,” he further added.

Meanwhile, Visa services between India and Canada have been severely impacted amid furore over the killing of a Sikh separatist leader. New Delhi stopped processing visa applications late last month and has now asked more than 40 diplomats to leave the country. The reduction in personnel could however lead to delays in Canadian visa processing services.

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Updated: 06 Oct 2023, 03:01 PM IST

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