Saturday, 30 September, 2023

India and Canada expel each other’s diplomat

  • Diplomatic Correspondent
  • 19th September, 2023 12:02:03 PM
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India and Canada expel each other’s diplomat

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In a tit-for-tat action, India and Canada have expelled each other’s senior diplomat over the killing of a Sikh separatist leader in Canada, plunging the already soured relations between the two countries to a new low.

India on Tuesday (Sept 19) ordered a senior Canadian diplomat to leave the country, hours after Canada asked an Indian official to leave that country citing a "potential" Indian link to the killing of a Sikh separatist leader in June.

The Canadian High Commissioner to India was summoned by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and conveyed about New Delhi’s decision to expel the senior Canadian diplomat, diplomatic sources said.

The MEA said the decision to expel the Canadian diplomat reflects India's growing concern at the "interference of Canadian diplomats in our internal matters and their involvement in anti-India activities."

"The concerned diplomat has been asked to leave India within the next five days," it said in a statement.

Earlier also on Tuesday (Sept 19), the MEA in a separate statement termed as "absurd” and "motivated" Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's claim of a "potential link” between Indian government agents and the killing of a Sikh separatist leader in Canada and sought prompt legal action against anti-India elements operating from Canada.

India's reaction came after Canada expelled a senior Indian diplomat with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau alleging that the Indian government may have had links to the assassination of a Sikh leader in that country.

"Allegations of Government of India's involvement in any act of violence in Canada are absurd and motivated," the Indian Ministry of External Affairs said.

After Trudeau made the comments in Parliament, Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly announced that a “top Indian diplomat” has been expelled from Canada.

“We have seen and reject the statement of the Canadian Prime Minister in their Parliament, as also the statement by their Foreign Minister. Allegations of government of India's involvement in any act of violence in Canada are absurd and motivated,” India said.

“Similar allegations were made by the Canadian Prime Minister to our Prime Minister, and were completely rejected,” the Indian External Affairs Ministry said.

“Such unsubstantiated allegations seek to shift the focus from Khalistani (Sikh separatists) terrorists and extremists who have been provided shelter in Canada and continue to threaten India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The inaction of the Canadian government on this matter has been a long-standing and continuing concern,” it said adding “that Canadian political figures have openly expressed sympathy for such elements remains a matter of deep concern.”

According to India, “the space given in Canada to a range of illegal activities including murders, human trafficking and organized crime is not new.”

“We reject any attempts to connect Government of India to such developments. We urge the government of Canada to take prompt and effective legal action against all anti-India elements operating from their soil,” the MEA said.

Over the last several months, Indian temples, including of Hindus and Sikhs, in Canada have been attacked and vandalized by Sikh separatists living in that country, drawing serious concerns from New Delhi. The attacks continued despite the Canadian authorities assured the Indian government of action against the attackers.

India’s concerns were conveyed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a bilateral meeting with Trudeau in New Delhi on the sidelines of the G20 Summit earlier this month.

This is not the first time New Delhi summoned the Canadian High Commissioner over the issue of Sikh separatists’ activities in Canada.

In March this year, the Indian government had summoned the Canadian High Commissioner in New Delhi to complain about Sikh separatists protests in Canada.

In 2020, India's Ministry of External Affairs had also summoned that country’s top diplomat over comments made by Trudeau about Indian farmers’ protests. Many Sikhs live in Canada.