India has asked Canada to reduce its diplomatic staff in the country by more than half, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday, with ties fraying after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau publicly levelled suspicions that Indian agents were involved in the killing of a Sikh separatist leader in Canada.
NEW DELHI – India has asked Canada to reduce its diplomatic staff in the country by more than half, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday, with ties fraying after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau publicly levelled suspicions that Indian agents were involved in the killing of a Sikh separatist leader in Canada.
Hardeep Singh Nijjar was shot dead by unidentified gunmen outside a Sikh temple on June 18 in a Vancouver suburb. India had designated him as a “terrorist” three years earlier.
India, which has dismissed the allegations as absurd, has now told Canada that it must repatriate 41 diplomats by October 10, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday.
The Financial Times, citing people familiar with the Indian demand, said India had threatened to revoke the diplomatic immunity of those diplomats told to leave who remained after October 10.
Canada has 62 diplomats in India and India had said that the total should be reduced by 41, the newspaper said.
The Indian and Canadian foreign ministries did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said earlier there was a “climate of violence” and an “atmosphere of intimidation” against Indian diplomats in Canada, where the presence of Sikh separatist groups has frustrated New Delhi.
Here’s a list of the diplomatic and trade actions taken by the two nations in the dispute so far:
* Canada paused talks on a proposed trade treaty with India, a Canadian official said on Sept. 1, an unexpected move that came about three months after both countries said they planned to seal an initial pact this year.
* Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi conveyed strong concerns about Sikh separatist protests in Canada to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the sidelines of a G20 summit in New Delhi on Sept. 10.
* Canada postponed a trade mission to India planned for October led by Trade Minister Mary Ng, a spokesperson for the minister said on Sept. 15. Canada’s decision to halt trade treaty talks and postpone the mission was due to concerns surrounding the murder, a Canadian source told Reuters.
* Trudeau told parliament on Sept. 18 that Canada was “actively pursuing credible allegations” linking Indian government agents to the killing of Nijjar, a Canadian citizen campaigning for the creation of an independent Sikh homeland carved out of India.
* India dismissed Trudeau’s assertion as “absurd” on Sept. 19. Both countries expelled a diplomat in tit-for-tat moves, with Canada throwing out India’s top intelligence officer in the country while India expelled his Canadian counterpart.
* India urged its citizens in Canada to exercise caution in a statement on Sept. 20, as the US, Australia and Britain expressed concerns about the issue.
* India’s JSW Steel Ltd is slowing down the process to buy a stake in the steelmaking coal unit of Canada’s Teck Resources, Reuters reported on Sept. 21 citing a source close to the discussions.
* India suspended issuing new visas for Canadians on Sept. 22 and asked Ottawa to reduce its diplomatic presence in India.
* Fertiliser importer Indian Potash said on Sept. 22 that it does not expect supplies of Canadian potash to be affected by the row and that it hopes to extend a contract with Canadian supplier Canpotex beyond the end of September. Canada is one of the key suppliers of potash to India.
* Canadian lentil sales to India slowed after tensions rose between the two nations, industry sources in both countries told Reuters. Canada is India’s main import source of lentils, a protein-rich staple.
* India’s steel secretary told reporters on Sept. 28 that Indian exports to Canada were marginal and have not been affected by the diplomatic row.