6 Oct 2023

India-Canada Diplomatic Row: Canada Shifting Its Delhi Embassy Staff To Kuala Lumpur, Singapore

New Delhi: Canada has relocated majority of its diplomats stationed in India, shifting them from New Delhi to either Kuala Lumpur or Singapore. This move comes in response to a diplomatic dispute with India following a contentious issue related to the killing of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Canada. India set a deadline of October 10 for Canada to balance its diplomatic presence, in India.

Earlier this week, India called upon Canada to recall several dozen diplomats from its Embassy in Delhi as tensions escalated in a diplomatic dispute sparked by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's accusation of Indian involvement in the June killing of Khalistani separatist Nijjar.

India vehemently denied these allegations, dismissing them as baseless and driven by ulterior motives. In response, India expelled a high-ranking Canadian diplomat in a retaliatory action following Ottawa's decision to expel an Indian official in connection with the same case.

The Indian government has reportedly given the Canadian government until October 10 to reduce the number of Canadian diplomatic staff in India to a level that is equal to the number of Indian diplomats in Canada.

Initially, there were reports suggesting that 41 Canadian diplomats would have to leave India, but the sources emphasized that the request is about achieving parity in diplomatic staff.

Many Canadian diplomats working in India, outside of Delhi, have been evacuated to either Kuala Lumpur or Singapore.

Global Affairs Canada had previously mentioned that some of its diplomats in India had received threats on social media platforms, leading to a temporary adjustment in staff presence in India.

The Indian government has alleged that some Canadian diplomats are interfering in India's internal matters, contributing to the tensions between the two nations.

Focus on ensuring parity in diplomatic strength: MEA

India's External Affairs Ministry spokesperson, Arindam Bagchi, stated that discussions are ongoing to achieve mutual diplomatic presence, with a focus on ensuring parity in diplomatic strength.

The exact details of the diplomatic conversation and whether October 10 is indeed the deadline for Canada to reduce its diplomatic staff in India have not been confirmed.

This situation reflects a strain in diplomatic relations between India and Canada, with both sides seeking to balance the number of diplomats in each other's countries. The alleged interference in internal matters and security concerns appear to be significant factors in this dispute.

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.

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