India has asked Canada to reduce its diplomatic staff in the country by more than half as ties fray after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau publicly aired suspicions that Indian agents were involved in the killing of a Sikh separatist leader in Canada.
Hardeep Singh Nijjar was shot dead by unidentified gunmen outside a Sikh gurdwara on June 18 in a Vancouver suburb. India had designated him as a “terrorist” three years earlier.
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Here’s a timeline of more than a month of diplomatic and trade actions taken by the two nations so far:
Canada pauses talks on a proposed trade treaty with India, an unexpected move that came about three months after both countries said they planned to seal an initial agreement this year.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi conveys strong concerns about Sikh separatist protests in Canada to Trudeau on the sidelines of a Group of 20 summit in New Delhi.
Canada postpones a trade mission to India planned for October, a spokesperson for Trade Minister Mary Ng says. Canada’s decision to halt trade treaty talks and postpone the mission was due to concerns surrounding Nijjar’s killing, a Canadian source told the Reuters news agency.
Trudeau tells the Canadian Parliament that Canada is “actively pursuing credible allegations” linking Indian government agents to the killing of Nijjar, a Canadian citizen campaigning for the creation of an independent Sikh homeland carved out of India.
India dismisses Trudeau’s assertion as “absurd”. The two countries expel diplomats in tit-for-tat moves with Canada throwing out India’s top intelligence officer in the country while India expels his Canadian counterpart.
India urges its citizens in Canada to exercise caution as the United States, Australia and Britain express concerns over Nijjar’s killing.
India’s JSW Steel Ltd begins to slow down a process to buy a stake in the coal unit of Canada’s Teck Resources, Reuters reports, citing a source close to the discussions.
India suspends issuing new visas for Canadian nationals and asks Ottawa to reduce its diplomatic presence in India.
Also, fertiliser importer Indian Potash says it does not expect supplies of Canadian potash to be affected by the diplomatic row and it hopes to extend a contract with Canadian supplier Canpotex beyond the end of September. Canada is one of the key suppliers of potash to India.
Meanwhile, Canadian lentil sales to India slow due to the tensions, industry sources in both countries tell Reuters. Canada is India’s main import source of lentils, a protein-rich staple.
India’s steel secretary tells reporters that Indian exports to Canada are marginal and have not been affected by the diplomatic row.
India tells Canada it must repatriate 41 diplomats by October 10, according to The Financial Times newspaper.
Also, Trudeau says Canada is not looking to “escalate the situation” with India. He says Ottawa will continue to engage responsibly and constructively with New Delhi.