Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on September 10, 2023. Photo: PIB

India reiterated on Thursday that Canada will have to reduce its diplomatic staff in New Delhi after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it was important to have diplomats stationed on the ground to support Canadian nationals.

External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi’s remarks also came after media reports that India had given 41 Canadian diplomats until October 10 to leave the country.

“As for discussions about parity, as we have mentioned before, given the much larger diplomatic presence of Canadian diplomats or the diplomatic presence here of Canada and its continued interference in our internal affairs, we had and have sought parity in our respective diplomatic presence,” Bagchi said Thursday at the weekly press conference.

After Trudeau stood up in Parliament and accused the Indian government of being behind the murder of a Canadian citizen, India angrily rejected the accusations, expelled a Canadian diplomat in a retaliatory move and called for the diplomatic force to be reduced.

India had accused Hardeep Singh Nijjar, murdered outside a Canadian gurudwara in June, of being a pro-Khalistani terrorist.

The Financial Times, followed by the Associated Press, reported earlier this week that India had asked Canada to withdraw 41 diplomats from its Indian missions.

Is Modi on a tightrope?

At Thursday’s briefing, Bagchi declined to mention the number of diplomats or the timeline for them to remain in India. “Look, I wouldn’t want to go into the details of the diplomatic talks. As we mentioned, I think last week, given that the Canadian diplomatic presence is much larger, we would assume that there would be a reduction. I think, broadly speaking, that covers those issues.”

The Financial Times, followed by the Associated Press, reported earlier this week that India had asked Canada to withdraw 41 diplomats from its Indian missions.

When it was pointed out that Canada had indicated it would affect consular services, Bagchi said: “…it depends on the Canadian side who they decide to staff their High Commission with.”

Indians have been going to Canada to study and work for a long time. Around 40% of Canada’s international students are Indian. Additionally, Indian tourists spend the most of all nationalities, according to a 2021 census.

In Canada, people of Indian origin make up about 3.7% of the population, or 1.4 million. Additionally, 770,000 people declared their religion to be Sikhism, about 2% of Canada’s population.

Canada, along with its closest allies including the United States, has repeatedly called on India to join the investigation. India has responded that it will be willing to study any specific information when it is shared.

The role of the United States has gained importance, especially after the American ambassador to Canada, David Cohen, said that information from the “Five Eyes” network had led Trudeau to go public with the allegations.

The New York Times had reported that while Canadian intelligence had found the “smoking gun,” the United States had also provided information.

Additionally, Politico reported on Wednesday that US Ambassador to India Eric Garcetti had told embassy colleagues that “relations between India and the US could worsen for some time” due to the dispute. Indo-Canadian diplomat.

He had also reportedly stated that the US may have to reduce its contacts with Indian officials for an indefinite period of time, according to the influential US news portal.

However, the spokesperson for the US embassy in New Delhi strongly denied the report. “The US embassy rejects these reports. Ambassador Garcetti works hard every day to deepen the partnership between the people and governments of the United States and India. “As demonstrated by his personal commitment and his public agenda, Ambassador Garcetti and the US Mission in India work every day to advance the important, strategic and consequential partnership we have with India,” he declared on Thursday.

Article republished from The Wire within the framework of an agreement between both parties to share content. Link to original article:

The Wire

The Wire is a non-profit Indian news and opinion website publishing in English, Hindi, Marathi and Urdu. It was founded in 2015 by Siddharth Varadarajan, Sidharth Bhatia and MK Venu and is organized as a non-profit organization called the Foundation for Independent Journalism.

The Wire and ReporteAsia have an agreement for translation and content exchange.


Leave a Reply