India has issued a stern ultimatum to Canada, demanding the repatriation of 41 diplomats by October 10, as reported by media. The strained relations between the two nations stem from Canada’s suspicion that Indian government agents played a role in the June murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Sikh separatist leader and Canadian citizen, in British Columbia. India had previously labeled Nijjar a “terrorist” due to his advocacy for Khalistan, an independent Sikh state.
According to insiders familiar with the situation, India has threatened to revoke the diplomatic immunity of any diplomats who remain in Canada beyond the specified deadline.
Canada currently has 62 diplomats stationed in India, and India has demanded that this number be reduced by 41, as stated by media.
Both the Indian and Canadian foreign ministries have yet to provide an official response to this report.
Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar previously expressed concerns about a “climate of violence” and an “atmosphere of intimidation” targeting Indian diplomats in Canada, where the presence of Sikh separatist groups has caused tension in bilateral relations.
Canada hosts a substantial Sikh population of around 770,000 individuals, the largest outside of the northern Indian state of Punjab. For decades, the Indian government has expressed dissatisfaction with some members of the Sikh community who openly support the idea of Khalistan.
Canada’s House of Commons includes 15 Sikh members, accounting for over 4 percent of the seats, despite Sikhs constituting only about 2 percent of the Canadian population.
The Khalistan movement, which sought an independent “Sikh homeland,” resulted in tens of thousands of casualties during the 1980s and 1990s and was eventually quelled by India. Today, it garners minimal support in Punjab.
In 2020, India accused Hardeep Singh Nijjar of delivering “hateful speeches” and engaging in “seditionary and insurrectionary imputations,” designating him as being “involved in terrorism.