India has asked Canada to withdraw around 40 diplomats by October 10, a report said on Tuesday, 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
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau during their meeting in Delhi. Photo: Justin Trudeau/Twitter
India has asked Canada to withdraw around 40 diplomats by October 10, a report said on Tuesday, 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.
The Financial Times reported that India has threatened to strip off the diplomatic immunity of any Canadian diplomat if they remained in the country after October 10.
Canada has 62 diplomats in India, while New Delhi has told them to reduce the headcount to 41 at their high commission, The Financial Times report said.
"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 was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau does not expect to back down, said Boehm, adding 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, who is the leader of the Liberal Party, shares power with Indian-origin and Canadian Sikh leader Jagmeet Singh, who heads the New Democratic Party (NDP).
"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," Boehms was quoted by The Financial Times as saying.
On previous occasions, India has said it wanted an equal number of diplomats posted in the country and Canada. At its high commission in Delhi, Canada has several dozen diplomats posted compared to what India has in Ottawa.
An unprecedented diplomatic crisis emerged between India and Canada after Trudeau on September 18 said that Canadian security agencies had been actively pursuing "credible allegations of a potential link" between Indian government agents and the killing of Nijjar.
India, which designated Nijjar as a terrorist in 2020, has outrightly rejected Canada's allegations, calling them "absurd" and "motivated". Nijjar, the chief of the banned Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF), was shot dead outside a gurdwara in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada in June.
India expelled a Canadian diplomat in a 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, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, in a veiled dig at Canada, asked the UN member states not to allow "political convenience" to determine responses to terrorism, extremism and violence. He made the comments while addressing the 78th session of the UN General Assembly in New York.