New Delhi has given Canada just over a week to remove 41 diplomats from Indian soil as relations between the two countries continue to sour, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday.
The FT, citing people familiar with the Indian demand, said India had threatened to revoke the diplomatic immunity of those diplomats told to leave who remained after October 10.
Ties between India and Canada have become seriously strained over Canadian suspicions that Indian government agents had a role in the June murder in Canada of a Sikh separatist leader and Canadian citizen, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who India had labelled a “terrorist”.
India has dismissed the allegation as absurd but the fallout has put at risk trade talks worth billions between the two countries.
The row has also threatened to envelop Canadian allies Britain, the US and Australia – all of whom are looking to ramp up economic ties with India in a bid to cut their China dependance.
Canada has 62 diplomats in India and New Delhi reportedly said that the total should be reduced by 41.
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.
Last week, Canada’s federal institutions suffered cyberattacks after an Indian hacker group claimed to have sowed chaos in Ottawa, CTV News reported.
The country’s Armed Forces and House of Commons websites were reportedly hit, though Canada’s counter-intelligence agency said the “nuisance” attacks likely hadn’t put private information at risk.
- Reuters with additional editing by Sean O’Meara