New Delhi: India’s Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar said on Sunday that India has enforced diplomatic parity with Canada in response to the interference of Canadian personnel in India’s internal affairs. He also said that India may resume issuing visas to Canadian citizens if there is progress in the security of Indian diplomats in Canada.
The bilateral relations between India and Canada have been tense since last month, when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused India of being involved in the killing of a Khalistani separatist leader, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, in June 2023. Nijjar was wanted by India for several terrorist activities, including a bomb blast at a cinema hall in Ludhiana in 2007. Trudeau claimed that India had sent agents to assassinate Nijjar, who was living in Canada as a refugee.
India strongly denied Trudeau’s allegations and called them baseless and unacceptable. India also temporarily suspended issuing visas to Canadian citizens and asked Ottawa to reduce its diplomatic presence in India. India said that it was concerned about the continued interference of Canadian personnel in India’s affairs, especially on the sensitive issue of Khalistan. Khalistan is a proposed independent state for Sikhs, which some separatist groups have been demanding since the 1980s.
Jaishankar, who was speaking at an event, said that India had invoked the principle of diplomatic parity, which is provided by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. The convention states that the sending state and the receiving state must accord each other equal treatment in terms of diplomatic privileges and immunities. Jaishankar said that India had asked Canada to match its diplomatic presence in India with that of India in Canada.
Canada has already recalled 41 of its diplomats from India, leaving only 15 staff members at its High Commission in New Delhi. Canada’s Foreign Minister Melanie Jolie condemned India’s move as a violation of international law and the Geneva Convention on Diplomatic Relations. She said that India’s action was unjustified and disproportionate.
Jaishankar said that India-Canada relations were going through a difficult phase. He said that India had a problem with some aspects of Canadian politics, which were not conducive to bilateral ties. He also said that if Canada could ensure the security of Indian diplomats in Canada, who have faced threats and harassment from Khalistani supporters, then India would like to resume issuing visas to Canadians. He said that India valued its relationship with Canada and hoped for a constructive dialogue to resolve the issues.