India has ordered Canada to remove 41 of its 62 diplomats in the country, a Canadian official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Tuesday.
Tuesday’s action by India, first reported by the Financial Times, follows both countries’ ousting each other’s senior diplomats.
The expulsion follows what Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called “credible allegations” of Indian involvement in the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, an Indian expatriate living near the Canadian city of Vancouver. India denies any wrongdoing.
Top officials in Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government have said that Nijjar’s role in a Sikh separatist movement that shook the nation in the 1980s made him a terrorist. The movement sought to establish an independent nation called Khalistan. New Delhi has long accused Ottawa of harboring pro-Khalistani extremists.
A spokesperson for India’s Ministry of External Affairs had previously called for limiting the number of Canadian diplomats in India, claiming that India had fewer diplomats in Canada.
Trudeau recently told reporters that Canada is “not looking to provoke or escalate.”
Trudeau and Modi had frosty run-ins during last month’s G20 conference in New Delhi — days before Canada canceled trade talks with India scheduled for this fall.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with India’s foreign minister last week and said Canada-India relations were brought up at the meeting.
“Reality is we need to find pathways of de-escalation, and perhaps Canada’s allies can be helpful here,” said Bruce Heyman, a U.S. ambassador to Canada under President Barack Obama.
Some information was provided by the Associated Press.