Unilateral Removal of Immunities Sparks Tensions After Sikh Separatist Leader’s Killing
In a significant development, Canada has confirmed the withdrawal of 41 diplomats from India, responding to New Delhi’s decision to remove diplomatic immunity for most Canadian diplomats by October 20. The move comes amid a deepening diplomatic dispute between the two nations over the killing of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar, designated a “terrorist” by India, on Canadian soil.
According to an official statement, Ottawa received formal notification from New Delhi regarding the removal of immunities for “all but 21 Canadian diplomats.” In response, Canada facilitated the departure of the affected diplomats and their families, citing the “security implications of India’s actions.”
Canada’s Foreign Minister Melanie Joly condemned India’s move as “completely unreasonable and escalatory,” asserting that the “unilateral revocation of diplomatic privileges and immunities is contrary to international law” and a “clear violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.” She emphasized the importance of respecting diplomatic immunities and criticized the breach of this norm by the host country.
The diplomatic standoff escalated following Prime Minister Justin Trudeau linking Nijjar’s killing to “agents of the Indian government.” Nijjar was fatally shot outside a Sikh temple in Vancouver on June 18, prompting allegations and expulsions of diplomats from both countries. India dismissed Trudeau’s allegations as “absurd.”
Canada’s Thursday statement highlighted the impact of the “mass expulsion” on the operations of the Canadian mission in India, with in-person services in consulates in Chandigarh, Mumbai, and Bengaluru temporarily suspended. Immigration Minister Marc Miller confirmed a reduction in embassy staff dealing with immigration, affecting visa application services. The cut in personnel is expected to create a backlog of approximately 17,500 applications, which officials hope to clear by early 2024.
India previously asserted that the number of Canadian diplomats in India exceeded the Indian presence in Canada, seeking parity in diplomatic strength. The Indian Foreign Ministry cited Canada’s “continued interference” in India’s internal affairs as justification for its call for parity. In response, India suspended visa services for Canadian citizens, citing “security threats” to its consulate staff in Canada.
Canada affirmed its commitment to a “legitimate investigation” into Nijjar’s killing, stating that India’s decision would not distract from its priorities of seeking the truth, protecting Canadians, and defending sovereignty. Despite public allegations, Trudeau’s government has not provided evidence to support its claims against India. The diplomatic crisis continues to strain relations between the two nations.
- India’s worst train crash in decades kills at least 288
- President Bola Tinubu Encourages Nigerian Students in India to Reach for Academic Excellence
- Minister Festus Keyamo Defers Decision on Nigeria Air to President Tinubu
- Vice President Kashim Shettima Departs for 15th BRICS Summit in South Africa
- Niger Republic Severs Ties with Nigeria and Other Nations Amid Failed ECOWAS Mediation