Melanie Joly, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, revealed that her country had withdrew 41 diplomats from India in response to a dispute over the killing of a Sikh separatist. Joly also stated that Canada would not take any retaliatory actions against India.
After Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated that there was credible evidence of a potential link between Indian agents and the slaying of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, 45, who was murdered outside of a Sikh temple in British Columbia in June, New Delhi requested that Ottawa lower its diplomatic presence last month. This came after Trudeau stated that there was credible evidence of a potential link between Indian operatives and the slaying.
Joly reported that India had threatened to unilaterally cancel the official status of the diplomats by Friday if they did not leave the country. She stated that this action was illogical, had never been done before, and was a blatant breach of Vienna convention on diplomatic relations.
At a press conference, she stated that “given the implications of India’s actions on the safety of our diplomats,” the United States had “facilitated the safe departure of our diplomats from India.”
“If we allow the norm of diplomatic immunity to be broken, then no diplomat anywhere on the planet will be safe. ” Because of this, however, we won’t be able to reciprocate,” she explained.
Since Trudeau openly connected Indian intelligence to the death of Nijjar, a Canadian citizen whom New Delhi had deemed a “terrorist,” relations between Canada and India have deteriorated dramatically.
However, New Delhi has refuted the charges and taken actions in response, such as suspending visa services for Canadian citizens. Canada has demanded that India help in the probe; however, India has disputed the allegations.
In addition, the Canadian government removed an Indian diplomat over the scandal.
Last month, in New York, India’s Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar stated that his country is open to investigate any information that is offered by Canada.
“In all honesty, we have been relentlessly harassing the Canadians. Jaishankar remarked in reference to Sikh separatists that “we’ve given them loads of information about organized crime leadership which operates out of Canada.”
“We have a situation where actually our diplomats are threatened, our consulates have been attacked, and often comments are made [that are] interference in our politics,” he stated.
There are around 2 million people in Canada who have Indian ancestry, which accounts for approximately 5% of the total population. There are roughly 770,000 Sikhs living in Canada, which accounts for around 2% of the country’s total population. Within this community, there is a vociferous group that advocates for the establishment of a separate state known as Khalistan.
Marc Miller, Canada’s Minister of Immigration, stated that because of the departure of the diplomats, Canada will reduce the number of embassy staff members who deal with immigration.
“We acknowledge the concerns and frustrations that this situation may cause for clients, families, educational institutions, communities, and businesses in Canada as a whole,” he said during the news conference.
According to Miller, the application centers for visas in India are managed by independent contractors and would not be impacted by this change.