Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated on Tuesday that his country has no desire to escalate tensions with India and aims to provide assistance to its citizens on the ground.
“Canada does not seek to escalate the situation with India but intends to engage responsibly and constructively with New Delhi. Our aim is to provide support to Canadian families in India by being present on the ground,” stated Trudeau.
On the same day, India reportedly requested Canada to withdraw 40 diplomats, as per a report in the Financial Times.
Citing sources familiar with the request, The Financial Times reported that India had warned of revoking diplomatic immunity for those diplomats instructed to depart if they remain beyond October 10. Canada currently has 62 diplomats in India, and India’s request was to reduce this number by 41, as per the newspaper’s information.
India-Canada relations have deteriorated significantly following Trudeau’s assertion that Indian agents were involved in the assassination of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Khalistani separatist leader whom India had classified as a “terrorist.”
India has rejected the accusation as “baseless.” Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar previously mentioned that there existed a “climate of violence” and an “intimidating atmosphere” targeting Indian diplomats in Canada.
Jaishankar also reiterated that if Canada possesses any specific or pertinent information regarding the assassination of Khalistani extremist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, India is willing to examine it.
“The Canadian PM initially made certain allegations in private, and later, publicly. Our response to him, both in private and public, emphasized that his allegations were inconsistent with our policy. We also conveyed that if his government possesses any pertinent and specific information they would like us to investigate, we are open to examining it. That’s the current status of this conversation,” he stated.
During his recent trip to the US, the minister also emphasized the presence of “organized crime, combined with secessionist movements, violence, and terrorism” in Canada. He expressed his apprehensions regarding the safety of diplomats in the country.