Taking a tough line, India on Thursday termed as "unacceptable" the denunciation of its security forces and intelligence establishment by Canada and gave it a one-week deadline to "address the situation
While Canada remained silent amid an outrage, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna said the Canadian High Commissioner had been "called" twice by his ministry to register protest over the issue.
"We have conveyed to the Canadian government that the letter issued by the Canadian High Commission to serving or retired officials of our security forces and agencies who had applied for Canadian visa are entirely unacceptable," he told reporters in Bangalore.
"We expect the Canadian authorities to address the situation appropriately," the minister said. Asked what next step India contemplated, he said, "Let us wait for the Canadian authorities to address it".
Noting that India had made its "position crystal clear to Canadian authorities", Krishna appealed to the media "not try to blow it (the issue) out of proportion."
Underlining that institutions in India function under the Constitution, he said, "We are proud of our security forces and agencies and the services they render to the nation".
The Canadian High Commission, over the last few years, has denied visas to a number of senior serving and retired officials of the armed forces and intelligence establishment, claiming that their organisations or they themselves have served in sensitive areas like Jammu and Kashmir and engaged in violence and human rights violations.
The home ministry is pushing the External Affairs Ministry to act tough with Canada over the issue even as political parties reacted with outrage.
Home Secretary G K Pillai has written a strongly-worded letter to Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, insisting that the MEA should act tough and seek apology from the High Commission and withdrawal of the officials who made the adverse comments against the security forces, sources said.
The home ministry wants the apology and the other action from the High Commission within a week, warning that there will otherwise be retaliation and the Canadian officials going to Afghanistan via India would be denied permission.
"We have written to the MEA, informing them about the whole development," Pillai told PTI in Delhi. Asked whether India would take retaliatory action, he said, "Let us see. It all depends on how they respond... We will wait to hear from them. Let's give them a few days' time."