Toronto: With New Delhi asking Canada to withdraw 41 out its 62 diplomats in India by October 10 to achieve a parity in the number of diplomatic staff in each country, Ottawa has reportedly evacuated its staff from its High Commission to Southeast Asia, according to a media report.
The CTV report said that Canada has evacuated the majority of its diplomatic staff from India and shifted them to either Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) or Singapore.
But there was no official word on their evacuation from New Delhi.
The news comes amid claims by Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly on Tuesday that the government was engaged diplomatically with India on the issue of staff reduction.
“We are in contact with the government of India. We take Canadian diplomats’ safety very seriously, and we will continue to engage privately because we think that diplomatic conversations are best when they remain private,” Jolie had said.
Amid the worsening bilateral ties, India has asked Canada to withdraw the 41 diplomats from the country by October 10 and failing to comply with the deadline will see them lose their diplomatic immunity.
There are more than 60 Canadian diplomats posted in India.
Meanwhile on Thursday, the External Affairs Ministrysaid that a parity has been sought in diplomatic presence.
“On discussions on parity, given the much higher presence of diplomats or diplomatic presence here and their interference in our internal matters, we have sought parity in our respective diplomatic presence,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi told mediapersons in response to a question on the issue.
He further informed that discussions are ongoing to achieve parity.
“Given that Canadian diplomatic presence is higher, we would assume that there would be a reduction,” he said.
Last month, after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had alleged in Parliament that Indian intelligence agents may have been involved in the murder of Sikh pro-Khalistan hardliner Hardeep Singh Nijjar, the diplomatic relations have hit an all time low between the two nations.
Following Trudeau’s allegations, the two nations have expelled a diplomat each.
India had also termed Canada’s allegations as “politically driven”.