New Delhi: India on Tuesday expelled a senior Canadian diplomat, citing his involvement in the country’s internal matters.
In a statement, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said “The concerned diplomat has been asked to leave India within the next five days”.
The decision came shortly after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told parliament that his country’s security agencies have been actively pursuing “allegations” of a potential link between Indian government agents and the murder of Khalistan Tiger Force chief Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia in June.
The MEA statement said the High Commissioner of Canada in New Delhi Cameron MacKay was summoned and informed about India’s decision to expel the senior Canadian diplomat.
India also lodged a protest against interference of Canadian diplomats in India’s internal matters and their involvement in “anti-India activities.”
“The decision reflects the Government of India’s growing concern at the interference of Canadian diplomats in our internal matters and their involvement in anti-India activities” said the MEA statement.
The decision followed Canada’s expulsion of an Indian diplomat in Ottawa.
Canadian foreign minister Mélanie Joly had announced the expulsion of a “top Indian diplomat”, after Trudeau’s allegation in parliament.
According to Canadian public broadcaster CBC, Foreign office identified the diplomat as Pavan Kumar Rai.
Reacting to the development, the MEA said “Such unsubstantiated allegations seek to shift the focus from Khalistani terrorists and extremists, who have been provided shelter in Canada and continue to threaten India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
The MEA said the inaction of the Canadian government on the issue has been a long-standing one and a matter for continuing concern.
It also said that Canadian political figures have “openly expressed sympathy for such elements, remains a matter of deep concern”.
In the strongly worded statement, the Ministry said, “The space given in Canada to a range of illegal activities including murders, human trafficking and organized crime is not new”.
“India rejects any attempts to connect the Government of India to such developments and urges the Government of Canada to take prompt and effective legal action against all anti-India elements operating from their soil,” it added.