New Delhi: Canada has decided to relocate its diplomats from India to Singapore and Malaysia after India asked it to reduce its diplomatic staff by more than half. This is the latest development in the ongoing diplomatic row between the two countries over the killing of a Canadian Sikh leader who was accused of being a terrorist by India.
The Canadian government has confirmed that it is moving 41 of its diplomats from India to Singapore and Malaysia before the deadline of October 10 set by India. The move comes after Canada failed to persuade India to reconsider its demand for parity in the number of diplomats in each other’s missions.
India had asked Canada to withdraw 41 of its diplomats from its embassy in New Delhi, bringing the number down to 21, after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau alleged that there were “credible allegations” of a potential link between agents of the Indian government and the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Canadian citizen and a prominent supporter of a separate Sikh homeland, in British Columbia in June.
India had rejected Trudeau’s allegations as “absurd” and politically motivated and accused Canada of sheltering Khalistani terrorists and extremists who threaten India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. India had also suspended all visa applications for Canadians as a retaliatory measure.
The diplomatic spat between India and Canada has strained their relations, which had been improving in recent years with increased cooperation in trade, energy, science and technology, and education. Both countries are also members of the Commonwealth and share democratic values and multicultural societies.
However, the issue of Sikh separatism has been a source of friction between them, especially after Trudeau’s controversial visit to India in 2018, when he was accused of being too close to Sikh radicals and snubbed by Indian leaders.
The current crisis has also drawn international attention, with the US expressing its “deep concern” over Trudeau’s allegations and urging both countries to resolve their differences through dialogue.