Canada scales down diplomatic presence after India threatens to revoke diplomatic immunity | EUROtoday

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.

TORONTO — Canada facilitated the departure of two-thirds of its diplomats in India after New Delhi threatened to strip them of their diplomatic immunity on Friday in the event that they remained, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly stated Thursday, calling the ultimatum a breach of worldwide regulation.

India’s warning deepened a large rift between the international locations that erupted after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated final month that authorities have been pursuing “credible allegations” that brokers of the Indian authorities have been behind the homicide of a Sikh separatist chief in Canada in June.

India reacted with fury, calling the cost “absurd” and ordering Canada to scale back its diplomatic footprint. Officials right here spent weeks in search of to avert this consequence, however these efforts failed. Forty-one Canadian diplomats and their dependents left India and 21 remained, Canadian officers stated.

“A unilateral revocation of diplomatic privileges and immunities is contrary to international law,” Joly stated at a information convention in Ottawa. “Threatening to do so is unreasonable and escalatory. If we allow the norm of diplomatic immunity to be broken, no diplomats anywhere … would be safe.”

She stated India “unilaterally” threatened to revoke diplomatic immunity on Oct. 20 and had offered “no good reason” for doing so, including that Canada wouldn’t reciprocate by issuing the same ultimatum for Indian diplomats right here.

Video of Sikh chief’s killing exhibits coordinated assault

A senior Canadian authorities official briefing reporters stated that India had already begun taking steps to strip Canadian diplomats of their standing and immunity. The official spoke on the situation of anonymity beneath guidelines established by the Canadian authorities.

The official stated that India may have expelled the diplomats and declared them “persona non grata,” as is usually performed throughout worldwide disputes, however had as an alternative taken a step with out “provision in the relevant international covenants.”

India’s High Commission in Ottawa didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark. Speaking to reporters final month, a spokesman for India’s External Affairs ministry stated it needed Canada to reduce its diplomatic presence due to “interference in our internal affairs.”

“This is a factor taken into account for seeking parity and rank equivalence in our mutual diplomatic presence,” Arindam Bagchi, spokesman for India’s External Affairs ministry, instructed reporters.

The dispute stems from the homicide of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Canadian citizen who was shot in his pickup truck whereas leaving a gurdwara in Surrey, British Columbia, in June. Nijjar, 45, was a pacesetter within the Khalistan motion, which goals to set up an unbiased Sikh state in India’s Punjab area.

The motion is outlawed in India, and safety companies there designated Nijjar a terrorist in 2020. They sought his extradition from Canada in 2022, the yr they linked him to the slaying of a Hindu priest in Punjab. The NIA, India’s counterterrorism company, revealed his residence tackle in Surrey and introduced a reward of 1 million rupees for data main to his arrest.

Masked gunmen, an ambush, a chase: The execution of Hardeep Singh Nijjar

Trudeau has not publicly offered proof to substantiate his allegation, saying that he desires to keep away from jeopardizing the investigation into Nijjar’s slaying. But a part of the intelligence was generated by the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance, and present and former U.S. officers stated they think about the case credible.

Indian officers have lengthy accused Canada of coddling Sikh extremists. Canada denies these claims. Officials right here have prevailed upon their Indian counterparts in public and in personal to cooperate with the investigation into Nijjar’s homicide, together with within the weeks earlier than Trudeau’s announcement.

After the declaration, Canada expelled an Indian diplomat who was the chief of the Canadian department of India’s international intelligence service. India responded by expelling a Canadian diplomat and suspending the issuance of recent visas for Canadians.

Trade talks between the 2 international locations had beforehand been paused, and a deliberate commerce mission to Mumbai this month was postponed indefinitely.

But the ultimatum issued by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s authorities dealt a considerable new blow to Canada-India ties — already at their lowest stage in years — and the fallout was sure to reverberate broadly in each international locations, hitting households, universities and companies.

Why international powers discover it really easy to harass their critics in Canada

Almost 1 in 5 new immigrants to Canada was born in India, Statistics Canada reported final yr, the very best proportion of immigrants from a single hometown since 1971. That’s one purpose Canada has extra diplomats in India than India does in Canada.

Marc Miller, Canada’s immigration minister, stated India was the highest nation in 2022 for everlasting residents, short-term international employees and worldwide college students in Canada.

Officials right here stated in-person providers at Canada’s consulates in Mumbai, Bangalore and Chandigarh can be suspended, and that the High Commission in New Delhi can be working with one-third of its workers.

“Later processing and slower services are expected for applications from India,” Miller instructed reporters in Ottawa. “Clients might see that their applications take longer to process and that their questions take longer to answer. It will take longer to see a visa in their passports.”

Trudeau’s allegation got here at a difficult time for allies, together with the United States, which have been courting India as a counterweight to China.

The U.S. State Department didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

Canadian authorities have stated they’re looking for three suspects in Nijjar’s homicide who fled in a silver 2008 Toyota Camry. A gurdwara safety digicam video of the slaying seen by The Washington Post confirmed that the plot to homicide him concerned a number of extra males and two automobiles.