NEW DELHI :
Canada’s allegations on terrorist’s killing appear to be politically driven, says Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi on Trudeau’s allegations on killing of Khalistani separatist
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.
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.
Ministry of External Affairs
spokesperson Arindam Bagchi also said: “Yes, I do think there is a degree of prejudice here. They have made allegations and taken action on them. To us, it seems that these allegations by Government of Canada are primarily politically driven.”
“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 However, the note was withdrawn within hours and then again it was put up online.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 also asked Canada to downsize its diplomatic presence in the country as relations between the the two countries plunged to an an all-time low following Ottawa’s allegations against New Delhi over the killing of a Khalistani separatist on Canadian soil.
Bagchi said the size of Canadian diplomatic staff in India is larger than what New Delhi has in Canada and that there should be a parity in strength and rank equivalence in the mutual presence.
“We have informed the Canadian Government that there should be parity in strength and rank equivalence in our mutual diplomatic presence. Their numbers here are very much higher than our’s in Canada. The details of this are being worked out,” he said.