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As diplomats leave India, Canada halts in-person services at its consulates – National


Ottawa has suspended in-person services at its consulates in India after the federal government pulled 41 diplomats out of the country.

The halt comes as tensions between India and Canada continue to remain sour after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last month that Canadian intelligence services had “credible evidence” that agents of the Indian government may have been involved in the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

The Canadian-Sikh advocate was gunned down outside his gurdwara in Surrey, B.C., in June.


Click to play video: 'Canada to reduce staff in India following immunity removal, remains committed to welcoming Indians'


Canada to reduce staff in India following immunity removal, remains committed to welcoming Indians


“The Consulates General of Canada in Bengaluru, Chandigarh and Mumbai are temporarily suspending in-person operations. You can obtain consular assistance and further consular information from the High Commission of Canada in New Delhi,” the Canadian government said on its international.gc.ca website on Friday.

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“Consular services in person remain available at the High Commission of Canada in New Delhi.”

Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly said Thursday the government has evacuated 41 diplomats from India after New Delhi formally conveyed its plan to Ottawa to strip their diplomatic immunity from them and their 42 family members by Friday.

Now just 21 of its diplomats remain in the country.


Click to play video: 'India urges Canada to provide security to Indian diplomats'


India urges Canada to provide security to Indian diplomats


Joly said the stripping of immunity “would put their personal safety at risk.”

“The safety of Canadians and of our diplomats is always my top concern, given the implications of India’s actions on the safety of our diplomats,” she told reporters in Ottawa.

Joly added Canada would not retaliate in kind, noting that doing so would be contrary to international law. She later said India’s actions were “unreasonable.”

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Click to play video: 'India has been in touch with Canada ‘at various levels’: Bagchi'


India has been in touch with Canada ‘at various levels’: Bagchi


“There is no reason under international law that would justify a country’s withdrawal of diplomatic immunity in this way overnight, and that includes the Vienna Convention,” Joly said in French.

“This is why I’m saying that it sets a precedent.”

New Delhi has publicly called for “parity” in the number of diplomats each country is hosting amid the row. According to the High Commission of India’s website, New Delhi has 12 diplomats at the high commission in Ottawa, part of the 19 listed as having some form of diplomatic status across the country.

That is among 60 total staff working at the high commission and consulates, not all of whom hold diplomatic status.


Click to play video: 'India says Canadian senate speaker to skip G20 event in New Delhi'


India says Canadian senate speaker to skip G20 event in New Delhi


India’s foreign ministry said in a statement Friday it rejects “any attempt to portray the implementation of parity as a violation of international norms.”

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“The state of our bilateral relations, the much higher number of Canadian diplomats in India, and their continued interference in our internal affairs warrant a parity in mutual diplomatic presence in New Delhi and Ottawa,” it said.

“We have been engaged with the Canadian side on this over the last month in order to work out the details and modalities of its implementation.”

It added that its actions are “fully consistent” with Article 11.1 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which states host nations “can require that the size of a mission be kept within limits considered by it to be reasonable and normal” in the absence of an agreement between two nations.


Click to play video: 'India-Canada relations impact GTA international students as fall convocation approaches'


India-Canada relations impact GTA international students as fall convocation approaches


India’s statement did not mention the removal of diplomatic immunity as Joly reported.

Immigration Minister Marc Miller said Thursday that the staff reduction will have an impact on the processing of temporary and permanent resident applications.

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“The lower numbers of staff will have short-term repercussions, and I believe medium-term as well,” he said.

“Clients might see that their applications take longer to process and other questions take longer to answer.”

Miller stressed, however, that Canada remained committed to welcoming Indians into the country despite New Delhi’s actions.


Click to play video: 'India seeks removal of Canadian diplomats to address interference, parity concerns: foreign ministry'


India seeks removal of Canadian diplomats to address interference, parity concerns: foreign ministry


Nijjar, 45, was a Sikh leader who advocated for the Khalistan movement. India had said Nijjar, who was born in India, had links to terrorism, an allegation Nijjar denied.

India has claimed Canada has become a “safe haven” for terrorists, and has suspended visa services in Canada. Ottawa has not retaliated in kind for that.

India also previously expelled a senior Canadian diplomat after Canada expelled a senior Indian diplomat.

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— with files from Global News’ Sean Boynton

&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.





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