India suspends visa for Canadians as diplomatic row intensifies


India has suspended visa services for Canadians in the wake of deepening diplomatic crisis between India and Canada. The fresh development comes just days after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused New Delhi of killing pro-Khalistan Sikh leader, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, outside a temple in British Columbia.

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Canada had expelled a high-ranking Indian diplomat prompting India to also expel a senior Canadian diplomat from Delhi.

Also Read:“Such state terrorism will not be allowed”: British MP raises killing of Canada Sikh leader in parliament

In a fresh development, India has suspended visa services for Canadians. BLS, the company acting as a facilitator for Indian visas, posted a message on its website.

“Important notice from Indian Mission: Due to operational reasons, with effect from 21 September 2023, Indian visa services have been suspended till further notice,” the message on the company’s website read.

The spokesperson for the India external affairs ministry, Arindam Bagchi, told reporters on Thursday that ‘our High Commissions and Consulates are facing security threats in Canada and cannot process Visa applications temporarily.’

“The security situation is due to inaction by Canada government. We will review it on a regular basis,” Bagchi added.

This follows a warning from the Indian government to its citizens living in Canada to exercise utmost caution in the wake of ‘growing anti-India activities and politically-condoned hate crimes and criminal violence in Canada.’

The Indian Sikh diaspora has been spearheading a campaign for the secession of the Indian state of Punjab from India for an independent Khalistan. The movement had led to militancy in the 1980s in Punjab and was crushed by force by the then Indian government headed by late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Gandhi was later assassinated by her two Sikh bodyguards Beant Singh and Satwant Singh on 31 October 1984.

The latest killing of a prominent separatist Sikh leader on Canadian soil prompted the US administration to tell India to cooperate with the Canadian investigation.

The matter was also raised in the British parliament on Tuesday when Labour MP Khalid Mahmood urged the Rishi Sunak government to issue a statement on the matter urgently.