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India tells Canada to withdraw 41 diplomats over Sikh murder rift

October 04, 2023 00:00:00

Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar

NEW DELHI, Oct 03 (Al Jazeera): India has told Canada that it must repatriate 41 diplomats by October 10, according to The Financial Times newspaper.

Ties between India and Canada have become strained over Canadian suspicion that Indian government agents had a role in the June murder in British Columbia of a Sikh separatist leader and Canadian citizen, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who India had labelled a "terrorist" because of his advocacy for Khalistan, an independent Sikh state.

India has dismissed the murder allegation as absurd.

The Financial Times, quoting people familiar with the Indian demand, reported on Tuesday that India had threatened to revoke the diplomatic immunity of those diplomats told to leave if they remained after October 10.

Canada has 62 diplomats in India and India had said that the total should be reduced by 41, the newspaper said.

The Indian and Canadian foreign ministries did not immediately react to the report.

Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said earlier there was a "climate of violence" and an "atmosphere of intimidation" against Indian diplomats in Canada, where the presence of Sikh separatist groups has frustrated New Delhi.

Canada is home to about 770,000 Sikhs, the highest population outside the northern Indian state of Punjab, and the Indian government has for decades expressed its displeasure with some community members' outspoken support for Khalistan.

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