As the Dispute Escalates, India Requests Ottawa To Reduce The Number of Its Embassies in India


On September 21, India suspended new visas for Canadians and requested a reduction in Canada’s diplomatic presence in the country amid escalating tensions between the two nations. The dispute was triggered by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s accusations linking India to the murder of a Sikh separatist in British Columbia.

India’s Ministry of External Affairs stated that Canada had not shared any specific information regarding the allegations made by Trudeau. In response, India suspended the issuance of new visas to Canadian citizens, citing “security threats” to its staff in consulates in Canada as the reason for the move. However, India did not provide evidence or details of these security threats.

The tensions began when Trudeau announced that Canada was investigating “credible allegations” of Indian government involvement in the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar. The Indian government denied any links to the alleged murder, leading to a diplomatic row between the two countries.

As a result of the dispute, India and Canada have announced tit-for-tat expulsions of senior diplomats and issued travel advisories against each other. The situation has also raised concerns among Canada’s key allies, including the United States, Britain, Australia, and New Zealand, all of which are part of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance.

The dispute has the potential to damage trade ties between India and Canada, with talks on a proposed trade deal already frozen. Canada is India’s 17th largest foreign investor, and Canadian portfolio investors have significant investments in Indian financial markets. Additionally, since 2018, India has been the largest source country for international students in Canada, making educational and economic ties between the two nations substantial.

The dispute highlights the long-standing issue of Sikh separatist activity in Canada, which India has been concerned about due to its potential to revive the insurgency in Punjab, India. While the insurgency in Punjab has largely been suppressed, some Sikh groups in Canada and other countries continue to support the demand for an independent Sikh state called Khalistan.

The situation remains fluid, with both countries closely watching developments and diplomatic efforts to defuse ongoing tensions.

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