ndia has asked Canada to reduce its diplomatic staff in India amid tensions between the two nations after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau alleged “potential” involvement of Indian government agents in the killing of Khalistan sympathiser Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
“There should be parity. They are more in numbers than we have at our mission there,” MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said at a press briefing on Thursday.
Bagchi said no specific information was shared by Canada on Nijjar’s killing. “We are willing to look at any specific information shared with them but so far nothing has been shared by them,” he said.
“The larger issue with Canada is that of terrorism and safe havens have been provided there,” the MEA spokesperson said.
On Thursday, India suspended visa services for Canadians till further notice “due to operational reasons”.
The MEA said the visa services were stopped for Canadians due to inaction by the Canadian government. “There are security threats to our diplomatic staff there. We have stopped giving visas to Canadians. We will review it regularly,” Bagchi said.
Earlier this wee, the Indian government termed the accusations by Trudeau “absurd and motivated”. “Such unsubstantiated allegations seek to shift the focus from Khalistani terrorists and extremists, who have been provided shelter in Canada and continue to threaten India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the MEA further said.
Canada also expelled Indian diplomat Pavan Kumar Rai, who was deputed by the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). In a tit-for-tat move, India asked a Canadian diplomat to leave the country in the next five days.
India has also issued a strongly-worded travel advisory for Indians going to Canada, updating the one issued in September 2022.
The MEA advised Indian citizens in Canada and those contemplating travelling there to exercise “utmost caution” amid growing anti-India activities and “politically-condoned” hate crimes in the country.
Amid the growing tensions, the Canadian High Commission in Delhi clarified that all its consulates in India were open and operational.
“With some diplomats having received threats on various social media platforms, Global Affairs Canada is assessing its staff complement in India. As a result, and out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to temporarily adjust staff presence in India,” the High Commission said.