Canada has withdrawn 41 of its diplomats from India in a significant escalation of a diplomatic row over the killing of a separatist Sikh leader.
The move comes after India refused to grant visas to Canadian officials who were to be part of a team investigating the killing of Ripudaman Malik.
Malik was shot dead in his driveway in Surrey, British Columbia, in July 2022. He was a founding member of the Khalistan Liberation Front, a Sikh separatist group that seeks to create an independent homeland for Sikhs in India’s Punjab region.
The Canadian government has said that it is “deeply concerned” about India’s refusal to grant visas to its investigators. It has also called on India to cooperate fully with the investigation into Malik’s killing.
The diplomatic row is likely to further strain relations between Canada and India. The two countries have been at odds over a number of issues in recent years, including India’s human rights record and its crackdown on dissent.
The withdrawal of Canadian diplomats from India is a significant step. It is a sign that the Canadian government is taking the killing of Malik very seriously and that it is prepared to take action to hold those responsible accountable.
The row is also likely to have implications for the Sikh community in Canada. The Khalistan Liberation Front is a designated terrorist organization in Canada, and the Canadian government has been working to counter its activities. The killing of Malik is likely to galvanize support for the Khalistan movement among some Sikhs in Canada.
The diplomatic row between Canada and India is a reminder of the complex and often fraught relationship between the two countries. It is also a reminder of the challenges of dealing with separatist movements that operate across borders.