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India has instructed Canada to send back 41 of its diplomats by October 10 amidst rising tensions between the two nations. This directive follows suspicions from Canada that Indian agents might have been involved in the murder of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia in June.
Nijjar, a Canadian citizen who advocated for an independent Sikh state called Khalistan, was labeled a “terrorist” by India. However, India has denied any involvement in his killing.
Sources cited by The Financial Times stated that India has threatened to strip the diplomats of their immunity if they remain in the country after the given deadline. While Canada has a total of 62 diplomats stationed in India, the request specifies a reduction of 41.
Neither the Indian nor Canadian foreign ministries have responded to these reports as of yet. Historically, India has voiced its concerns about the presence of Sikh separatist groups in Canada. Canada houses around 770,000 Sikhs, the most outside of the Indian state of Punjab. The push for Khalistan, an independent Sikh homeland, resulted in a violent rebellion in the 1980s and 90s but has minimal support in Punjab today.