New Delhi, Oct 20 (EFE).- Canada temporarily suspended certain consulate services in India on Friday following New Delhi’s decision to withdraw diplomatic immunity from 41 Canadian diplomats as tensions between the two countries continue to rise.
“The Consulates General of Canada in Bengaluru, Chandigarh, and Mumbai are temporarily suspending in-person operations,” said a press statement posted on the Canadian government’s website.
The statement directed applicants to seek consular assistance and further information from the High Commission of Canada in New Delhi.
Canada’s decision came shortly after Canadian Foreign Minister Canada Mélanie Joly said India had revoked diplomatic immunity for 41 out of 62 diplomats in India, forcing them to leave the country.
Joly said she was coordinating the departure of these diplomats and their families, scheduled for Friday.
She emphasized that Canada would not respond with similar actions.
“The unilateral withdrawal of diplomatic immunity is contrary to international law. It is a clear violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations,” Joly told reporters in Canada.
Last month, India called on Canada to reduce the number of its diplomatic staff in the country to match the Indian diplomatic presence in Ottawa, leading to the repatriation of a significant number of diplomats from the Canadian embassy in Delhi.
Diplomatic ties between the two countries deteriorated after Canadian authorities accused India of being involved in the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Canadian activist of Sikh origin.
Nijjar was fatally shot in June 2023 in the western Canadian town of Surrey by unknown gunmen in a Sikh temple parking lot.
Indian authorities had charged him with terrorism for advocating the creation of a separate homeland, Khalistan, for the Sikh minority in the state of Punjab.
On Sep.18, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau informed the Canadian parliament of credible allegations by the country’s intelligence services regarding Indian agents’ involvement in Nijjar’s murder.
“Any involvement by a foreign government in the murder of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty,” said Trudeau, asking India to cooperate in the investigation.
Trudeau’s accusations were accompanied by the ouster of a senior Indian diplomat, leading to India’s tit-for-tat expulsion of a senior Canadian diplomat.
Subsequently, India issued a security advisory for its citizens in Canada and temporarily suspended visas for Canadians.
Canada, which has a Sikh population of approximately 770,000 within its 1.8 million Indian diaspora, has asserted the right to freedom of expression and peaceful demonstration while rejecting India’s allegations of supporting pro-Khalistan terrorism. EFE