The Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday said that there was a “degree of prejudice” in Canada’s allegations that the Indian government was involved in the killing of Khalitan activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
"There's a degree of prejudice, to us these allegations seem to be primarily politically driven," MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said in a press conference in Delhi. He said that Canada did not share any specific information with India in the Nijjar case.
"No specific information was shared by Canada on this case (Nijjar case). We are willing to look at specific information. From our side, specific information regarding criminal activities by individuals based on Canadian soil was shared but has not been acted upon," Bagchi said.
Bagchi conveyed that the Canadian diplomatic presence in India was higher compared to that of India in Canada. "There should be parity in strength," he noted, calling for a reduction of Canada's diplomatic strength in India.
The foreign ministry statement comes hours after India increased security at the Indian Consulate in Canada and also suspended its visa services there “till further notice".
Speaking on the visa issue, Bagchi clarified that all categories of visas have been suspended. "All categories of visas are suspended. The issue is not about travel to India but the issue is incitement of violence and inaction by the Canadian government. Those who have valid visas and OCI cards can travel freely," he said.
Bagchi said, "We have always believed that it is the host government's responsibility to provide security. Some places we have our own security posture also. But, I don't want to discuss security measures in public. That's not an appropriate situation."
“It is Canada that needs to look into its growing reputation of being a safe haven for terrorists, extremists, and organised crime,” he said and hinted that there may be more expulsions of Canadian diplomats.
"We have informed the Canadian government that there should be parity in strength and rank equivalence in our mutual diplomatic presence. Their number here (in India) are very much higher than ours in Canada. The details of this are being worked out but I assume there will be reduction," he said.
A diplomatic standoff ensued between India and Canada following Trudeau’s allegations in the Parliament that New Delhi was involved in Nijjar’s killing. This comes while the relations were already reeling under some strain between the two nations in light of increasing activities of pro-Khalistani elements in Canada.