OTTAWA – The Canadian government is withdrawing some diplomats from India as tensions continue to rise following allegations from Ottawa this week that the Indian government may have been involved in a murder on Canadian soil.
Jean-Pierre Godbout, spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada, confirmed Wednesday evening that Canada would remove some of its personnel from the country.
“In light of the current context where tensions have increased, we are taking measures to ensure the safety of our diplomats. With some diplomats having received threats on various social media platforms, Global Affairs Canada is currently assessing its staffing levels in India,” he wrote in an email.
“As a result, and out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to temporarily adjust staff presence in India. All our sites are staffed with diplomats and locally recruited staff to ensure business and operational continuity.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada’s security services had “credible allegations” that Indian government agents were involved in the death of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Sikh community leader in Surrey, British Columbia.
Nijjar was shot dead in his truck by two masked gunmen as he left his Sikh temple on June 18. He was president of the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara and a prominent campaigner for the creation of a separate state, called Khalistan, for Sikhs in India. .
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Godbout said all of Canada’s diplomatic offices in India would remain open and the department would make decisions about who would return on a case-by-case basis.
“Canada will continue to take all appropriate measures to protect the health and safety of all our personnel, including locally engaged personnel, and to protect our operations in India. Decisions are made based on a number of factors, including an employee’s professional profile or personal situation,” he said.
Canada has a high commission in New Delhi, the Indian capital, as well as consulates in Bangalore, Chandigarh and Mumbai. Godbout also said the government expects Indian authorities to protect remaining Canadian diplomats.
“As part of fulfilling obligations under the Vienna Conventions, we expect India to ensure the security of our diplomats and consular officers accredited in India, just as we do for theirs here,” a- he declared.
In July, after posters appeared announcing a protest against Nijjar’s killing and threatening Indian diplomats, the Indian High Commission in Canada reportedly requested additional security from Ottawa for its diplomats.
In August, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said police were “engaged” after a video circulating online also appeared to threaten Indian diplomats in Canada.
India issued a travel advisory for Canada on Wednesday, warning its citizens to be careful if traveling to the country, in what was widely seen as retaliation for Ottawa’s accusations.
“Given the increase in anti-Indian activities and politically tolerated hate crimes and criminal violence in Canada, all Indian nationals there and those planning to travel are advised to exercise extreme caution” , we can read in the press release.
Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc rejected the idea that Canada was unsafe and rejected the advice regarding Indians.
“People can read whatever they want into it. Canada is a safe country. The Indian government can explain why it is doing this,” he said. “
LeBlanc declined to provide more specific information about the premier’s allegations, saying he did not want to compromise the ongoing investigation into Nijjar’s murder.
“What we are doing is ensuring that a proper criminal investigation is conducted into these circumstances. And I think, as we said yesterday, making additional comments will prevent the RCMP from doing the important work that they need to do.
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