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India orders Canada to remove 41 of its 62 diplomats in the country

India has told Canada to expel 41 of the 62 diplomats stationed in the country, an official said on Tuesday.

The demand will heighten tensions between the two countries over Canada’s allegations of possible Indian involvement in the killing of a Sikh separatist leader in a Vancouver suburb.

The official made the anonymous statement because he was not authorised to speak publicly ahead of the Canadian government’s public response on Tuesday. He confirmed an earlier Financial Times report.

India’s Ministry of External Affairs refrained from commenting.

Last month, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed Parliament and said there were “credible allegations” of Indian involvement in the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a 45-year-old Sikh leader who was killed by masked gunmen in June in Surrey, near Vancouver. For years, India has said Nijjar, a Canadian citizen born in India, had links to terrorism, a charge Nijjar denied.

Nijjar was on the side of establishing an independent Sikh state known as Khalistan in northern India and was listed as a “terrorist” by India in July 2020. Sikhs have been demanding an independent homeland for decades.

Organising the assassination of a Canadian citizen in Canada, home to about 2 million people of Indian origin, would be unprecedented.

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