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DIPLOMATIC ROW: Canada’s Justin Trudeau says India putting millions of people at stake

DIPLOMATIC ROW: Canada’s Justin Trudeau says India putting millions of people at stake

Canadas Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario.—Reuters/File
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario.—Reuters/File

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Friday expressed his concern over the Indian government’s actions, noting that their crackdown on Canadian diplomats was causing hardships for millions of people in both nations. 

Trudeau’s remarks came shortly after Canada’s decision to recall 41 diplomats in response to India’s unilateral threat to revoke their diplomatic status.

The tensions between the two countries were exacerbated by Trudeau’s earlier suggestion, made last month, that Indian agents could have played a role in the June assassination of a Sikh pro-Khalistan leader in Canada. India has vehemently denied any involvement in the incident.

“The Indian government is making it unbelievably difficult for life as usual to continue for millions of people in India and in Canada. And they’re doing it by contravening a very basic principle of diplomacy,” Trudeau said.

“It’s something that has me very concerned for the wellbeing and happiness of millions of Canadians who trace their origins to the Indian subcontinent,” he told reporters at a televised press conference in Brampton, Ontario.

Trudeau said the expulsion of some of Canada’s diplomats would hamper travel and trade and pose difficulties for Indians studying in Canada.

Around two million Canadians, 5% of the overall population, have Indian heritage. India is by far Canada’s largest source of global students, making up roughly 40% of study permit holders.

The Indian foreign ministry earlier rejected the idea it had violated the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations.

“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,” it said in a statement. Canada now has 21 diplomats remaining in India.

The US State Department on Friday backed Canada in the dispute over diplomats.

“We have urged the Indian government not to insist upon a reduction in Canada’s diplomatic presence and to cooperate in the ongoing Canadian investigation,” said spokesperson Matthew Miller.

Britain backs Canada’s India stance

Meanwhile, Britain on Friday reaffirmed its position against the decisions taken by India that resulted in 41 Canadian diplomats departing the country earlier this week amid a dispute over the murder of a Sikh leader in Canada.

“We do not agree with the decisions taken by the Indian government that have resulted in a number of Canadian diplomats departing India,” the UK foreign ministry said.

Canada has alleged Indian involvement in the June murder of Canadian citizen and Sikh leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar, whom India called a “terrorist.” India denies the allegation.

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