Canadian High Commission in New Delhi. PTI file
India has given a deadline to Canada to repatriate around 40 diplomats by 10 October and said that it would revoke their diplomatic immunity if they remained after the given date.
The Indian government is yet to issue a statement on the latest development.
Canadian diplomats in India
A report by Financial Times mentioned a person saying Canada had 62 diplomats in India and New Delhi has asked Ottawa to reduce that by 41 people.
The MEA has also warned Canada to either have an equal number of diplomats or shut down consulates, a report by Times Now quoted sources as saying.
The move at a time when India and Canada’s diplomatic relationship is witnessing its lowest point after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, last month, made an allegation of an ‘Indian link’ in the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June in Surrey, British Columbia. The charge was strongly rejected by New Delhi.
India asks Canada for ‘parity’ in number of diplomats
India had earlier asked Canada for a “parity” in the number and grade of diplomats each nation posts to the other.
In September, New Delhi alleged interference in India’s internal affairs on the part of Canadian diplomats posted in the country and said it had already intimated to the authorities in Ottawa that it wanted a reduction in the number of Canadian diplomats in India.
“Their numbers here are very much higher than India’s diplomatic presence…We have seen Canadian diplomatic interference in our internal affairs. This is being taken into account and parity is being sought in rank and diplomatic strength. We think Canadian numbers will go down.
Discussions are going on,” the spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs Arindam Bagchi had said.
Canada yet to provide evidence on its claims
India has outrightly rejected the claims made by Trudeau, calling them “absurd” and “motivated”.
The Indian government has said Canada has yet to provide any public evidence to support the claim about the killing of Nijjar.
Days after Trudeau’s remark, India, on 21 September, suspended visa services for Canadian citizens citing “security threats” faced by the Indian High Commission and consulates in Canada.
After the decision, External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar told reporters, “Majboori thi…humare diplomats, consulates ke khilaf hinsa ka prachar ho raha hai, kaise visa, office jane ka kam karenge, yeh law and order, Vienna convention ka issue hai (We were desperate. They [Canada] were perpetrating hate at our diplomats, consulates, how would people go to the visa office and get their work done? Law and order is an issue of the Vienna Convention)
Jaishankar said the visa services had to be suspended because Indian diplomats and officials were unable to continue with their work as there were threats of constant violence against them.
“Under the Vienna Convention, it is the responsibility of every country to provide security to its embassy and those working in the embassy. Don’t make it bilateral. This environment is not in India…Social media postings, protests and threats are happening in Canada. They (the Canadian government) should take action there.” Jaishankar added.