India has decided to temporarily halt visa services for Canadian nationals due to perceived “security concerns” involving diplomatic personnel in Canada. This move represents a significant escalation in the ongoing diplomatic dispute between the two nations, which began when Ottawa raised suspicions that New Delhi might have played a role in the assassination of a Sikh separatist activist within its borders.
BLS International, the entity responsible for processing visa applications for India in Canada, has formally communicated via a letter to Indian stock exchanges on Thursday that visa services are currently in a state of suspension until additional notice is provided.
“Due to operation reasons, with immediate effect i.e. 21 September 2023, Indian visa services in Canada have been suspended till further notice,” the letter read.
Arindam Bagchi, the ministry’s spokesman, said “The issue is of incitement of violence, the inaction by the Canadian authorities, the creation of an environment that disrupts the functioning our high commission and consulates, that’s what’s making us stop temporarily the issuance of visas or providing visa services.”.
“We have always believed that it is the host government’s responsibility to provide security,” he told reporters in New Delhi on Thursday.
The declaration came after India’s foreign ministry issued a strong travel advisory on Wednesday, urging its citizens in Canada to exercise caution due to concerns about “politically sanctioned acts of hatred.”
Following the announcement, Canada’s government has rejected travel advisory regarding security concerns within Canada, asserting that it ranks among the safest nations globally. Amid the intensifying diplomatic dispute surrounding the assassination of a Khalistani militant on Canadian soil, Canada has also appealed for a sense of tranquility.