India Suspends Canada Visa Services Amid Khalistan Row.
India has halted visa services for Canadian citizens due to escalated tensions between the two nations. BLS International Services, which runs the visa application centres in Canada, on Thursday said that Indian Visa Services in Canada have been suspended until further notice with effect from September 21.
India’s Ministry of External Affairs, however, is yet to officially announce this update on visa services for Canadians.
Important notice from Indian Mission: Due to operational reasons, with effect from 21 September 2023, Indian visa services have been suspended till further notice. Please keep checking BLS website for further updates,” a message on blsindia-canada.com reads.
The suspension of visa services comes amid strained ties between India and Canada over Khalistan extremism, an issue over which multiple diplomatic developments have been taking place over the past few days.
Meanwhile, Ottawa has reportedly announced temporary adjustments to its staff presence in India, aimed at safeguarding diplomats in response to threats received on social media.
What Is Happening Between India and Canada
India and Canada are undergoing a phase of strained ties over Khalistan extremism after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier this week claimed there are “credible allegations of a potential link” between agents of the Indian government and the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a wanted Khalistani terrorist, was killed in June in British Columbia province of Canada, raising tensions between Sikh separatists and the Indian government.
Trudeau’s remark this week was followed by expulsion of a senior Indian diplomat by Canada and then a tit-for-tat move by India of removing a senior Canadian diplomat.
Row Over Hardeep Singh Nijjar’s Killing
Hardeep Singh Nijjar was shot dead outside a gurdwara in the Punjabi-dominated Surrey city of British Columbia province of Canada by two unidentified bike-borne assailants in June this year.
Nijjar, President of the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara and member of a separatist organisation Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), was declared a ‘wanted terrorist’ by the government of India, due to his involvement in acts of violence.
The Indian government had also directed Canadian authorities to act against the terrorist and his name had featured on a list of 40 designated terrorists released by the Indian government. His outfit Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) is also banned in India.
Hardeep Singh Nijjar was from Bharsinghpur village in Punjab’s Jalandhar and there were several cases registered against him in terror activities. He moved to Canada in 1997 and worked as a plumber.
During the early years, he was involved in Babbar Khalsa International and later made his own organisation Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF), a Canada-based pro-Khalistan outfit.
What Did Trudeau Say On Nijjar’s Killing
Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told his country’s Parliament on September 18 that he had raised the “killing of Canadian national Hardeep Singh Nijjar” with PM Modi.
Trudeau said, “Over the past number of weeks Canadian security agencies have been actively pursuing credible allegations of a potential link between agents of the government of India and the killing of a Canadian citizen, Hardeep Singh Nijjar.”
Any involvement of a foreign government in the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty,” Trudeu added.