Canada pulls 41 diplomats from India, 17,500 visa applications at risk

Canada halts visa services in Chandigarh, Mumbai, Bengaluru. Visa services will be available only at the Canadian High Commission in Delhi

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau (photo: DW)
Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau (photo: DW)

NH Political Bureau

Amid the ongoing India-Canada diplomatic standoff over the killing of Khalistani leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar, Canada on Friday, 20 October, has withdrawn 41 diplomats from India, and halted visa services in Chandigarh, Mumbai, and Bengaluru consulates. The visa services will be available only at the Canadian High Commission in Delhi.

The withdrawal of the diplomatic staff may lead to a backlog of 17,500 decisions on applications from India, Canadian newspaper the Globe and mail has reported.

Nijjar was killed by unknown assailants on June 18 in British Columbia. Canada alleged that killing of Nijjar was a handiwork of Indian intelligence agencies. India however had rejected the allegations as “absurd” and “motivated”.

Notably, India has about 20 diplomats in Canada, while Canada had three times more than the Indian presence, about 60 diplomats in India.

“India’s decision will impact the levels of services to consulates in both countries. Unfortunately, we have to put a pause on all in-person services in our Consulates in Chandigarh, in Mumbai and in Bangalore,” Joly added.

When asked, MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi had said, “Given the much higher presence of diplomats or diplomatic presence here…and their continued interference in our internal matters, we have sought parity in our respective diplomatic presence. Discussions are ongoing on the modalities of achieving this. Given that Canadian diplomatic presence is higher, we would assume that there would be a reduction".

Announcing that Canada has removed 41 diplomats and their 42 family members from India, Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly stated, “India has formally conveyed its plan to unethically remove diplomatic immunities for all but 21 Canadian diplomats and dependents in Delhi by October 20. This means 41 Canadian diplomats and their 42 dependents were in danger of having immunity stripped on an arbitrary date. And this would put their personal safety at risk.”

Joly said that Canada has “facilitated their safe departure from India”. Following the rift between the two countries, India had asked Canada to withdraw 40 diplomats from India in the first week of October.

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