India and Canada are currently involved in a major diplomatic row over the killing of 'Khalistan' supporter Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June.
Weeks after seeking parity in its diplomatic strengths, Indian government has reportedly asked Canada to withdraw 41 diplomats from its India mission, according to various media reports. The development comes in the backdrop of a massive diplomatic row erupted between India and Canada over the killing of a Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had earlier last month accused Indian government agents of a role in the June 18 killing of Nijjar, a Canadian citizen. He was killed by two masked gunmen in the parking lot of a Surrey Gurudwara in British Columbia.
India vehemently rejected Canadian allegations terming them “absurd and politically driven”. Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi had accused Canadian diplomats of interfering in India’s internal matters and asked Ottawa to have parity in its diplomatic strength.
“Their numbers here are very much higher than India’s diplomatic presence (in Canada).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,” Bagchi had said last month.
Canada has a total of 62 diplomats posted in its High Commission office in New Delhi. India has asked Ottawa to reduce that strength by 41. According to a report by The Financial Times, India has threatened to revoke diplomatic immunity of those diplomats told to leave stayed in the country after October 10.
The diplomatic row over Nijjar killing started with Ottawa’s decision to expel the Canada station chief of Indian intelligence agency RAW. In a tit-for-tat action, India also expelled a Canadian diplomat and asked him to leave the country in no more than five days.
The raw escalated further after Khalistani threats to Indian diplomats in Canada and India announced a ban on visa services for Canadian nationals.