The foreign minister of Canada, Melanie Joly, stated that 41 diplomats were removed from India due to a disagreement regarding the killing of a Sikh separatist. She also mentioned that Ottawa will not be enacting any retaliatory measures.
In the previous month, the city of New Delhi requested Ottawa to decrease its diplomatic representation, following Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s statement about the existence of credible evidence connecting Indian agents to the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, aged 45, who was fatally shot outside a Sikh temple in British Columbia in June.
Joly stated that India had issued a warning to unilaterally withdraw the diplomats’ official status by Friday if they did not depart. She deemed this action as unjustified and unprecedented, as it directly contradicted the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
She stated at a press conference that due to the potential danger posed to our diplomats, we have arranged for their secure departure from India.
She stated that if we break the standard of diplomatic immunity, diplomats all over the world would be at risk. Therefore, we will not retaliate.
Canada currently has a total of 21 diplomats stationed in India. The group of 41 diplomats who departed were accompanied by 42 family members.
The relationship between India and Canada has deteriorated due to Trudeau’s public statement connecting Indian intelligence to the killing of Nijjar, a Canadian citizen who was previously labeled as a “terrorist” by New Delhi.
Canada has requested for India to work together in the investigation, however New Delhi has denied the accusations and implemented retaliatory actions, such as suspending visa services for Canadians.
In addition, Ottawa removed an Indian diplomat due to the incident.
Last month, during a visit to New York, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, the Indian Minister of External Affairs, stated that India is open to reviewing any evidence that Canada may present.
“We have persistently pressured the Canadians. We have provided them with extensive information about the organized crime leaders based in Canada,” stated Jaishankar, specifically mentioning Sikh separatists.
The speaker stated that our diplomats are in danger and our consulates have been targeted. He also mentioned that there have been comments made that interfere with our politics.
Around 2 million people in Canada, which makes up about 5% of the total population, have ancestors from India. The Sikh community in Canada is estimated at 770,000, making up about 2% of the country’s population. There is a vocal group that advocates for the establishment of a separate state known as Khalistan.
The Immigration Minister, Marc Miller, stated that the departure of diplomats resulted in Canada reducing the number of embassy personnel responsible for immigration matters.
He expressed understanding for the worries and disappointment that this circumstance may bring about for customers, families, schools, communities, and businesses throughout Canada during the press conference.
Canada’s primary source of international students is India, accounting for approximately 40% of those holding study permits.
According to Miller, the visa application centers in India are managed by external contractors and will not be impacted.