On Friday, Canada made the decision to recall 41 of its diplomats from India due to concerns that New Delhi might withdraw their diplomatic immunity. This move comes as a result of an ongoing dispute between India and Canada regarding the killing of a Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Nijjar. Canada has expressed that the removal of diplomatic immunity could potentially jeopardise the safety of its officials.
Here are 10 facts on this dispute
Many Canadian diplomats and their families have departed India due to the ongoing dispute. Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly stated that India intended to remove their diplomatic immunity in an unfair manner. Only 21 officials remain to handle Canada’s embassy and consulates in India, she said.
The reduced number of diplomatic staff means that Canada’s offices in India will provide fewer services that would result in longer visa and immigration processing times. A Canadian government representative mentioned that the immigration and visa program will be significantly limited.
Canada has also released a travel advisory for its citizens visiting India and advised them to be cautious. The advisory stated that people travelling India should exercise a high level of caution in India because of the potential threat of terrorist attacks across the country.
Canada has stopped offering in-person services at its consulates in Mumbai, Bengaluru and Chandigarh. If you require consular help, you’re encouraged to go to the embassy in New Delhi or contact them by phone or email.
Last year, India was the largest contributor of people becoming permanent residents, temporary foreign workers and international students in Canada.
Canada’s Immigration Minister, Marc Miller has confirmed that they will still be open to welcoming Indian immigrants. However, visa processing is expected to experience delays, especially in the short to medium term.
Due to the decrease in staff, there is a backlog of 17,500 application decisions anticipated until the end of December. The hope is that processing will return to its usual pace by early 2024, as reported by Bloomberg quoting a Canadian official.
Tensions escalated between India and Canada when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau claimed that India had a role in the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar. In 2020, India had labelled Nijjar a terrorist and he was fatally shot by masked gunmen on June 18 in British Columbia.
Canadian security agencies have been diligently investigating credible claims of a possible connection between individuals linked to the Government of India and the murder of a Canadian citizen, Hardeep Singh Nijjar. Prime Minister Trudeau emphasised that any foreign government’s involvement in the killing of a Canadian citizen within Canada’s borders is an unacceptable violation of their sovereignty.
Trudeau’s statements triggered a diplomatic dispute with India describing the allegations as “baseless” and “driven by ulterior motives. Subsequently, both countries expelled high-ranking diplomats and issued travel warnings.