India-Canada row escalates; New Delhi temporarily suspends issuance of visas to Canadian citizens
Accordingly, our high commission and consulates are temporarily unable to process visa applications, he said.Bagchi said the situation will be reviewed regularly.The issue is not about travel to India.
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 said Canada must act against the pro-Khalistani elements operating from its territory.
He said all categories of visas have been suspended.
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.
''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,'' he 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.
India also asked Canada to downsize its diplomatic staff in the country arguing that there should be parity in strength and rank equivalence in the mutual diplomatic presence. The size of Canadian diplomatic staff in India is larger than what New Delhi has in Canada.
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 However, the note was withdrawn within hours and then again it was put up online.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.
The India-Canada ties were reeling under some strain for the last few months in view of increasing activities of the pro-Khalistani elements in the North American country. India believes the Trudeau government is not addressing its genuine concerns.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)