India has told Canada to withdraw forty diplomats by October 10, 2023, amid the snowballing diplomatic row between the two countries over Ottawa’s allegations of New Delhi’s involvement in the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar on Canadian soil, a report by the Financial Times said.
A person with direct knowledge of the matter told a newspaper agency that India has threatened to strip off diplomatic immunity of any Canadian diplomat if they remained in the country after October 10, 2023. Canada has sixty-two diplomats in India, while New Delhi has told them to reduce the count to forty-one at their High Commission, according to a news agency.
Remarks of the Canadian Senate Committee Chair
The chair of the Canadian Senate Committee of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Peter Boehm, said- “Declaring more Canadian Diplomats as persona non-grata would not help the situation and would make reducing the emotions associated with this disagreement more difficult.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau does not expect to back down, said Boehm, and added that India saw Canada as an easy mark. He asserted that New Delhi was aware of Ottawa’s limited capacity to retaliate since the latter has a minority government. Trudeau is a leader of the Liberal Party, who shares power with Indian Origin Jagmeet Singh, who heads the Democratic Liberals Party.
India knows our capacity to retaliate is limited that we have a minority government and is also aware of the constituent politics at play, and of course, India has an upcoming election on the horizon. Boehms was quoted by a newspaper agency.
Indo-Canadian Diplomatic Rift
On previous occasions, India said that it wants an equal number of diplomats and Canada after Trudeau, on September 18, 2023, said that Canadian security agencies have been actively pursuing credible allegations of a potential link between Indian government agencies and Nijjar’s death.
India designated Hardeep Singh Nijjar as a designated terrorist in 2020 and abruptly dismissed these remarks, calling them absurd and motivated, Nijjar, who was the chief of Khalistan Tiger Force, was shot dead outside a gurudwara in Surrey, British Columbia.
India expelled a Canadian diplomat in tit for tat response to Ottawa’s expulsion of an Indian Official over the case. New Delhi also suspended visa services for Canadian nationals.
On September 26, 2023, the External Affairs Minister (EAM) Jaishankar, in a veiled dig at Canada, asked the UN member states to allow political convenience to determine responses to terrorism, extremism and violence. He made the comments while addressing the 78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, USA.
Impact on Indo-US Relations
Trudeau’s allegation, linking the murder of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar who the Trudeau government insists that he was a peaceful leader and activist and religious leader, has jeopardised India’s relations with the US.
The US is worried about what the Canadian Prime Minister said about India‘s potential hand behind the death of Nijjar and wants the Indian nation, with whom it has set up cordial relations, to cooperate with Canada’s investigation into the killing.