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Canada removes 41 diplomats from India after New Delhi threatens to revoke their immunity

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TORONTO — Canada has recalled 41 of its diplomats from India after the Indian authorities stated it might revoke their diplomatic immunity, the overseas minister stated Thursday, in an escalation of their dispute over the slaying of a Sikh separatist in Canada.

The strikes come after Canada’s allegations that India could have been concerned within the June killing of Canadian citizen Hardeep Singh Nijjar in suburban Vancouver. India has accused Canada of harboring separatists and “terrorists,” however dismissed the allegation of its involvement within the killing as “absurd” and has taken diplomatic steps to specific its anger over the accusation.

International Minister Mélanie Joly stated Thursday that 41 of Canada’s 62 diplomats in India have been eliminated, together with their dependents. Joly stated exceptions have been made for 21 Canadian diplomats who will stay in India.

“Forty-one Canadian diplomats and their 42 dependents had been at risk of getting their immunity stripped on an arbitrary date and this might put their private security in danger,” Joly stated. “Our diplomats and their households have now left.”

Joly stated eradicating diplomatic immunity will not be solely unprecedented however opposite to worldwide regulation, and stated for that cause Canada would not threaten to do the identical factor with Indian diplomats.

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“A unilateral revocation of the diplomatic privilege and immunity is opposite to worldwide regulation and a transparent violation of the Geneva Conference on diplomatic relations. Threatening to take action is unreasonable and escalatory,” Joly stated.

Joly stated India’s determination will affect the extent of providers to residents of each nations. She stated Canada is pausing in-person providers in Chandigarh, Mumbai and Bangalore.

India’s Ministry of Exterior Affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi had beforehand known as for a discount in Canadian diplomats in India, saying they outnumbered India’s staffing in Canada.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated final month that there have been “credible allegations” of Indian involvement within the slaying of Nijjar, a 45-year-old Sikh chief who was killed by masked gunmen in June in Surrey, exterior Vancouver.

For years, India had stated that Nijjar, a Canadian citizen born in India, had hyperlinks to terrorism, an allegation Nijjar denied.

India additionally has canceled visas for Canadians, and Canada has not retaliated for that. India beforehand expelled a senior Canadian diplomat after Canada expelled a senior Indian diplomat.

Trudeau has beforehand appeared to attempt to calm the diplomatic conflict, telling reporters that Canada is “not trying to provoke or escalate.”

The allegation of India’s involvement within the killing is predicated partially on surveillance of Indian diplomats in Canada, together with intelligence offered by a significant ally, a separate Canadian official beforehand informed The Related Press.

The official stated that the communications concerned Indian officers and diplomats in Canada and that a number of the intelligence was offered by a member of the “5 Eyes” intelligence-sharing alliance, which incorporates the US, Britain, Australia and New Zealand, along with Canada. The official spoke on situation of anonymity as a result of they weren’t approved to debate the matter publicly.

The newest expulsions by India have escalated tensions between the nations. Trudeau had frosty encounters with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi throughout the current Group of 20 assembly in New Delhi, and some days later, Canada canceled a commerce mission to India deliberate for the autumn.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has met with India’s overseas minister amid the simmering row. A U.S. official stated the subject was raised. U.S. officers have acknowledged that the fallout from the allegations might have an effect on relations with India, however have been cautious to not solid blame within the killing of Nijjar.

Nijjar, a plumber, was additionally a pacesetter in what stays of a once-strong motion to create an unbiased Sikh homeland, often known as Khalistan. A bloody decade-long Sikh insurgency shook north India within the Nineteen Seventies and Eighties, till it was crushed in a authorities crackdown during which hundreds of individuals had been killed, together with outstanding Sikh leaders.

The Khalistan motion has misplaced a lot of its political energy however nonetheless has supporters within the Indian state of Punjab, in addition to within the sizable abroad Sikh diaspora. Whereas the energetic insurgency ended years in the past, the Indian authorities has warned repeatedly that Sikh separatists had been making an attempt to make a comeback.

Canadian Immigration Minister Marc Miller famous that in 2022 India was the highest nation for everlasting residents, short-term overseas employees and worldwide college students in Canada. Miller stated because of India’s determination to take away immunity Canada’s immigration division can be considerably decreasing the variety of Canadian staff in India. Miller stated the decrease employees ranges will hamper the issuing of visas and permits.

Senior Canadian officers stated India was agency on the quantity and rank of Canadian diplomats for whom it might carry diplomatic immunity. India additionally indicated it might cancel varied permits, comparable to these allowing spouses to work in India and permitting the usage of diplomatic plates on automobiles, officers stated.

Nelson Wiseman, a political scientist on the College of Toronto, stated there could be no level in Canada retaliating over India’s newest transfer.

“The expulsions of the Canadian diplomats reveal the skinny pores and skin of the Indians; it means that they know they’re complicit within the homicide of a Canadian in Canada,” Wiseman stated. “They’re making an attempt to deflect consideration from their lack of cooperation with Canada within the investigation of the homicide.”

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