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Canada has withdrawn 41 of its diplomats from India, a day before the deadline set by New Delhi, failing which they were liable to lose diplomatic immunity. The action comes after India had sought parity in the strength of the North American country’s diplomatic presence by bringing down the number of those stationed in the country from 62 to 21.
Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau slammed the move, calling it a violation of the ‘Vienna Convention governing diplomacy” and said New Delhi’s actions will also impact “”millions of Canadians who trace their origins to the Indian subcontinent.”
India has 21 diplomats in consulates and embassies in Canada. On the other hand, Canada has three consulates in India. It has five trade offices and state government offices and none of them have been asked to be removed.
In its statement, the ministry of external affairs had said,”We have seen the Statement by the Government of Canada on October 19 regarding Canadian diplomatic presence in India. The state of our bilateral relations, the much higher number of Canadian diplomats in India, and their continued interference in our internal affairs warrant a parity in mutual diplomatic presence in New Delhi and Ottawa”.
HT has learnt that some of the withdrawn diplomats were found to be involved in activities incompatible with the diplomatic status. Some diplomats were liasoning directly with political parties’ leadership. It is alleged that Canada had roped in its diplomats with certain Indian politicians to gather political intelligence.
India had asked Pakistan for diplomatic parity way back in 1994 after its diplomats were found to be ‘exceeding their brief’.
India has been asking Canada to stop pro-Khalistani activities on its soil. New Delhi has no interesting in either breaking off the bilateral relationship or escalating the entire issue.
Author of Indian Mujahideen: The Enemy Within (2011, Hachette) and Himalayan Face-off: Chinese Assertion and Indian Riposte (2014, Hachette). Awarded K Subrahmanyam Prize for Strategic Studies in 2015 by Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (MP-IDSA) and the 2011 Ben Gurion Prize by Israel.