India-Canada Row: India Demands Canada Withdraw 40 Diplomats Over Terrorist Killing
India calls for the removal of 40 Canadian diplomats by October 10 amid a dispute over allegations of its involvement in a Khalistani terrorist's killing in Canada.
NEW DELHI: India has issued a demand for Canada to recall approximately 40 diplomats by October 10, intensifying a diplomatic conflict between the two nations triggered by Ottawa's allegations of New Delhi's complicity in the assassination of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar on Canadian soil. A report from The Financial Times has revealed this development.
A source with firsthand knowledge of the situation informed the media that India has issued a warning that it would revoke the diplomatic immunity of any Canadian diplomat who remains in the country beyond October 10.
As per reports, Canada currently maintains 62 diplomats in India. In response to India's request, they have been instructed to reduce their contingent to 41 at their high commission.
Peter Boehm, the chair of the Canadian Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, expressed concerns about the escalating situation, stating, "Declaring more Canadian diplomats personae non gratae wouldn't help the situation and would make reducing the emotions associated with this disagreement more difficult." Boehm also noted that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is not expected to back down and that India perceives Canada as an "easy target." He asserted that New Delhi is aware of Ottawa's limited capacity to retaliate due to the Canadian government's minority status.
"Declaring more Canadian diplomats personae non gratae wouldn't help the situation and would make reducing the emotions associated with this disagreement more difficult," Peter Boehm, chair of the Canadian Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade quoted.
Trudeau, the leader of the Liberal Party, shares power with Indian-origin and Canadian Sikh leader Jagmeet Singh, who heads the New Democratic Party (NDP). Boehm pointed out, "India knows our capacity to retaliate is limited, that we have a minority government and is aware of the consequent politics at play. And, of course, India has an election on the horizon."
In previous interactions, India had expressed its desire for an equal number of diplomats posted in both countries. Currently, Canada has several dozen diplomats stationed at its high commission in Delhi, whereas India has fewer diplomats in Ottawa.
This diplomatic crisis between India and Canada emerged following Trudeau's statement on September 18, where he revealed that Canadian security agencies were actively investigating "credible allegations of a potential link" between Indian government agents and Nijjar's killing. India, which had designated Nijjar as a terrorist in 2020, has vehemently rejected Canada's allegations, dismissing them as "absurd" and "motivated." Nijjar, the leader of the banned Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF), was fatally shot outside a gurdwara in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada, in June.
As a response to Ottawa's expulsion of an Indian official over this case, India previously expelled a Canadian diplomat and suspended visa services for Canadian nationals. On September 26, India's External Affairs Minister, S Jaishankar, indirectly criticized Canada during his address to the 78th session of the UN General Assembly in New York, urging UN member states not to let "political convenience" dictate responses to terrorism, extremism, and violence.