Reported By: Abhishek Jha
Last Updated: September 21, 2023, 20:25 IST
Amid ongoing diplomatic tensions between New Delhi and Ottawa, the Canada High Commission in the national capital has announced plans to ‘adjust’ staff presence at India missions. In a statement released on Thursday, the Canadian mission stressed that the decision is being taken “out of an abundance of caution” in response to threats on social media platforms.
“In light of the current environment where tensions have heightened, we are taking action to ensure the safety of our diplomats. With some diplomats having received threats on various social media platforms, Global Affairs Canada is assessing its staff complement in India,” the mission said in a statement. “As a result, and out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to temporarily adjust staff presence in India.”
This comes as tensions between the two countries escalated after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau claimed a possible connection between Indian government agents and the June killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar. Subsequently, both India and Canada expelled senior diplomats. The diplomatic tensions come in the backdrop of New Delhi’s growing concern about the increasing anti-India activity in Canada, including “open” support by political figures for Khalistani figures.
In the statement, the Canadian mission said that all of its locations are staffed by diplomats and locally engaged staff to ensure business and operational continuity. “Global Affairs Canada will continue to take all appropriate measures to protect the health and safety of all our personnel, including locally-engaged staff, and to protect our operations in India. Decisions are made based on a number of factors including the professional profile of an employee or personal circumstances,” it added.
On Wednesday, India issued an advisory and urged its citizens living in the country and those planning to travel to exercise “utmost caution” in view of growing anti-India activities and “politically-condoned hate crimes”. In a statement, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) pointed to “threats” targeting Indian diplomats and sections of the Indian community that oppose the “anti-India agenda.
Before issuing the advisory, the MEA this week dismissed the claim that India was involved in the killing of Nijjar, who was shot dead by two masked assailants outside the Sikh temple in Surrey. The ministry said that such unsubstantiated allegations seek to shift the focus from Khalistani terrorists and extremists, who have been provided shelter in Canada.