Hardeep Singh Niger: India suspends visas for Canadians as diplomatic row deepens


India has suspended visa services for Canadian citizens over “security threats” against diplomats in Canada, and may be behind Ottawa’s killing of a Sikh separatist activist on its soil in New Delhi. The dispute between the two countries has escalated after allegations of involvement.

BLS International, which handles visa applications for Indians in Canada, sent a letter to Indian stock exchanges on Thursday saying that visa services have been “suspended until further notice.”

The letter to Bombay Stock Exchange, National Stock Exchange of India and Metropolitan Stock Exchange read, “Due to operational reasons, with immediate effect i.e. from September 21, 2023, Indian visa services in Canada have been suspended till further notice.” gone.” .

Earlier, BLS International said on its website that India has suspended visa services for Canadian citizens from Thursday, citing a notice from the Indian mission.

The notice was briefly removed without explanation before reappearing on Thursday.

India’s Ministry of External Affairs said the temporary suspension of visa issuance across all categories was taken due to “security threats” faced by Indian High Commissions and Consulates in Canada.

“The issue is incitement to violence, inaction on the part of the Canadian authorities, creating an environment that disrupts the work of our High Commission and consulates, which is why we are temporarily are ceasing to issue visas or provide visa services”. , said Arndam Bagchi.

“We have always believed that providing security is the responsibility of the host government,” he told reporters in New Delhi on Thursday.

The announcement follows a strict travel advisory from India’s Ministry of External Affairs on Wednesday, urging its citizens to be vigilant in Canada, warning them of “politically objectionable hate crimes”. has been done

CNN has contacted India’s Ministry of External Affairs and BLS International.

The travel warning comes days after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau claimed authorities were investigating “credible allegations” of a possible link between “agents of the Government of India” and the killing of Hardeep Singh Najjar, a Sikh Canadian citizen. . By Masked Men in June.

New Delhi has strongly denied the allegations, calling them “ridiculous and provocative”.

India’s foreign ministry said Canada had not provided “any specific information” to support Delhi’s alleged involvement in Najjar’s death.

“I would also like to point out that on our part, very specific evidence of criminal activity by individuals residing on Canadian soil has been shared with Canadian authorities on a regular basis,” said Bagchi, a ministry spokesperson. No action was taken.”

Bachie added that he expects Canada’s diplomatic presence in the country to be reduced.

But Trudeau’s statement has sent relations between the two countries into a tailspin, with both India and Canada expelling senior diplomats in reciprocal moves, sparking a rift between key US partners. The chances of a freak crack are increased.

Najjar was an outspoken supporter of a separate Sikh homeland known as Khalistan, which would include parts of the Indian state of Punjab.

The Khalistan movement has been outlawed in India and is considered a threat to national security by the government. Several groups associated with the movement have been listed as “terrorist organizations” under India’s Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

Najjar’s name appears on the Home Ministry’s UAPA terrorist list and in 2020, India’s National Investigation Agency accused him of “trying to radicalize the Sikh community worldwide in favor of establishing Khalistan.” “He added, “Trying to get Sikhs to vote for secession, to incite against the Government of India and to engage in violent activities.

He was shot to death in June by two masked assassins in his truck outside a Sikh temple in Surrey, British Columbia, according to local police.

His death shocked and outraged the Sikh community in Canada, the largest outside India and home to more than 770,000 members of the religious minority.

Canadian police have not arrested anyone in connection with Najjar’s murder. But in an August update, police released a statement saying they were investigating three suspects and released a description of a possible vehicle to help the public.

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