India suspends visa services for Canadians amid heightened tensions World news

New Delhi has indefinitely suspended visa services for Canadian citizens amid rising tensions between the two countries, even as Ottawa said it would protect diplomats after threats received on social media. temporarily adjusting staff presence in India to ensure

Indian Consulate in Toronto.  (AFP)
Indian Consulate in Toronto. (AFP)

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s allegation of Indian involvement in the killing of Khalistani leader Hardeep Singh Najjar has heightened tensions and sparked a diplomatic row that triggered a series of expulsions of senior diplomats this week.

No formal announcement of the suspension of visa services was made until BLS International, which operates visa application centers in Canada, posted a message on its Canadian website to this effect. “Important Notice from Indian Mission: Due to operational reasons, from 21 September 2023 [Thursday]Indian visa services have been suspended till further notice.

An Indian official confirmed the suspension but declined to comment further. “The language is clear and it says what it intends to say.” This is the first time that India has suspended visas after the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Indian High Commission’s website could not be accessed for verification late on Wednesday as it was apparently down.

The suspension followed India’s advisory on Wednesday asking its citizens in Canada to exercise extreme caution due to rising anti-India activities and “politically sanctioned hate crimes”. Indian students in particular have been advised to exercise extreme caution and be vigilant.

Najjar was shot dead in the parking lot of the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara on his way to Surrey, British Columbia. He was a prominent figure in the separatist organization Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) in the province. SFJ has blamed India for the murder.

A Canadian Foreign Ministry spokesperson told Canadian newspaper The National Post that some diplomats have received threats on social media platforms. “…Global Affairs Canada [the foreign ministry] Reviewing the completion of its staff in India. As a result, and out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to temporarily adjust our staff presence in India. Diplomats and locally engaged staff are deployed at all our locations to ensure business and operational continuity.

Also read: Canada cited threats to adjust diplomatic staff presence in India

Canada has sought additional security around its missions, including the High Commission in New Delhi and consulates in Mumbai, Chandigarh and Bengaluru.

The spokesperson referred to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of Diplomats and Diplomatic Premises, and added, “They expect our accredited diplomats and consular officers in India to be protected in the same way that we protect them here. taken.”

Security has been beefed up at India’s missions in Canada as well as senior diplomats after the SFJ blamed “Kill India” posters in July and then New Delhi on June 18 for Najjar’s murder.

India has sought additional security at the High Commission in Ottawa and consulates in Toronto and Vancouver after the SFJ threatened to “close Indian missions” on September 25, calling them “homes of terrorism”. .

The SFJ, which was banned in India in 2019 for its pro-Khalistan activities, has threatened Hindus of Indian origin and asked them to “support” their native country and celebrate Najjar’s killing. Leave Canada for celebrating “promoting violence”.

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