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India suspends all visa services for Canadian citizens

Source: PTI
Last updated on: September 21, 2023 19:11 IST
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India on Thursday announced temporarily suspending issuance of visas to Canadian citizens in view of "security threats" faced by its high commission and consulates in Canada, amid an escalating diplomatic row over Ottawa's allegations relating to the killing of a Khalistani separatist on Canadian soil.

IMAGE: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to India, February 23, 2018. Photograph: Press Information Bureau

External affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said the decision will include Canadian visa applicants in third countries even as he asserted Canada must act against the pro-Khalistani elements operating from its territory.

India is temporarily unable to process visa applications from Canada because of the "security threats" faced by our high commission and consulates in Canada, Bagchi said at a media briefing.

"You are aware of the security threats being faced by our high commission and consulates in Canada. It has disrupted their normal functioning. Accordingly, our high commission and consulates are temporarily unable to process visa applications," he said.

Bagchi said the situation will be reviewed regularly.

He said all categories of visas have been suspended.


"The issue is not about travel to India. Those who have valid visas and documents like OCI (Overseas Citizenship of India) cards are free to travel to India," Bagchi said.

"The issue is the incitement of violence, the inaction by the Canadian authorities, creation of an environment that disrupts the functioning of our high commission and consulates. That's making us temporarily stop the issuance of visas or providing visa services," he said.

"We will be reviewing the situation on a regular basis," Bagchi said.

Earlier in the day, a private agency hired by India to carry out the initial scrutiny of visa applications of Canadians put out a note on its website on suspension of visa services due to "operational reasons". However, the note was withdrawn within hours and then again it was put up online.

The agency, BLS International, also informed the stock exchanges that it had suspended India visa services in Canada with immediate effect.

India and Canada are embroiled in a diplomatic row over the killing of Khalistani separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June.

The row erupted following Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's allegations of a "potential" involvement of Indian agents in the killing.

India on Tuesday rejected the allegations as "absurd" and "motivated" and expelled a senior Canadian diplomat in a tit-for-tat move to Ottawa's expulsion of an Indian official over the case.

In reflection of hardening of its position, India on Wednesday advised all its nationals living in Canada and those contemplating travelling there to exercise "utmost caution" in view of growing anti-India activities and "politically-condoned" hate crimes as well as "criminal violence" in that country.

At the media briefing, Bagchi also said that there was a degree of "prejudice" in Trudeau's allegations against.

He said Canada did not share any specific information with India on the case.

India-Canada ties were reeling under some strain for the last few months in view of the increasing activities of pro-Khalistani elements in the North American country. India believes the Trudeau government is not addressing its genuine concerns.

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