India – Canada Row: According to reports, a discreet meeting took place in Washington between Canada’s Foreign Minister, Melanie Joly, and India’s Minister of External Affairs, S Jaishankar. This meeting took place recently against the backdrop of the diplomatic dispute between the two nations, which stems from Canada’s accusations regarding India’s alleged connection to the assassination of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, as reported by the Financial Times.
Secret meeting in US
Both the Canadian and Indian foreign ministries have not officially acknowledged the meeting. Additionally, the report stated that the Canadian government is actively working to address the strained diplomatic relations with India. This follows reports suggesting that Canadian diplomats were facing a deadline to depart India, potentially jeopardising their diplomatic strength.
Earlier this month, the Canadian Foreign Minister had stated that they were making efforts to privately resolve the matter. He said, “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 diplomatic conversations are best when they remain private.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has affirmed that Canada has no intention of “escalating the situation” with India, and he has reiterated the commitment to “engage responsibly and constructively with New Delhi.” According to a recent report by Canada’s CTV News, around 30 diplomatic staff members have been relocated from India to either Kuala Lumpur or Singapore.
Deteriorating diplomatic relations between India & Canada
The relationship between India and Canada deteriorated following Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s statement on September 19, alleging a “potential” involvement of Indian agents in the assassination of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia. Nijjar was a Canadian citizen and was fatally shot by two masked gunmen on June 18.
India swiftly rejected the allegations and characterised them as “absurd” and “motivated.” In response to Canada‘s expulsion of an Indian official, New Delhi reciprocated by expelling a senior Canadian diplomat. Furthermore, in the recent past, India called on Ottawa to reduce its diplomatic staff in India, citing Canada’s “higher diplomatic presence,” in a bid to achieve parity in diplomatic representation.