In view of the prevailing diplomatic tension, Canada has “temporarily adjusted” its staff presence in India, the High Commission of Canada informed The Hindu on Thursday. The confirmation came in the backdrop of reports that local staffs employed in the Canadian missions in India have been asked to go on leave. There were similar information about Indian missions in Canada suspending visa facilities for Canadian citizens but the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has not stated anything definitive on this matter till the time of this report.
“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. As a result, and out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to temporarily adjust staff presence in India,” the High Commission of Canada has told The Hindu.
The Canadian mission also reminded the Government of India of obligations under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961 that assures protection of foreign diplomats and said, “we expect India to provide for the security of our accredited diplomats and consular officers in India, just as we are for theirs here.”
“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,” said the High Commission of Canada.
Since last Monday when Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused Indian operatives of carrying out the murder of Khalistan Tiger Force leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Surrey, British Columbia, threats has heightened for Indian diplomats in Canada and Ottawa’s diplomats in India. On both sides vitriolic online comments targeted serving diplomats.
Earlier media reports had circulated that India had stopped issuing visas for Canadians but the MEA has refused to say anything definitive on this so far. In its travel advisory issued on Wednesday, Ministry of External Affairs had pointed out that Indian diplomats and a section of the Indian population in Canada were also being targeted in campaigns carried out by the Khalistan sympathisers. In the travel advisory, the Government of India focused on all its citizens staying in Canada and urged them to exercise caution in view of “politically condoned” violence targeting Indians.