India has suspended visa services for Canadian nationals indefinitely as tensions between the two countries escalate. This move comes in the wake of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's allegation of Indian involvement in the killing of Khalistani leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar, which sparked a diplomatic row and led to the expulsion of senior diplomats from both nations.
India has indefinitely suspended visa services for Canadian nationals amid escalating tensions between the two countries. The suspension comes in the wake of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s allegation of Indian involvement in the killing of Khalistani leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar, which triggered a diplomatic row and resulted in the expulsion of senior diplomats from both nations.
While no formal announcement of the visa suspension has been made, BLS International, the company that manages Indian visa application centers in Canada, posted a message on its Canadian website, stating: “Important notice from the Indian Mission: Due to operational reasons, with effect from 21st September 2023 [Thursday], Indian visa services have been suspended until further notice.”
An Indian official confirmed the visa suspension but provided no further comments, noting that the language of the announcement is clear. This marks the first time India has suspended visa services since the COVID-19 pandemic.
In response to the deteriorating diplomatic relations, India issued an advisory on Wednesday urging its citizens in Canada to exercise extreme caution due to increasing anti-India activities and “politically-condoned hate crimes.” Indian students, in particular, have been advised to remain vigilant.
Hardeep Singh Nijjar, the principal figure of the secessionist outfit Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) in the province of British Columbia, was assassinated in Canada. SFJ, which was banned in India in 2019 due to its pro-Khalistan activities, blamed India for Nijjar’s killing.
Canada’s foreign ministry stated that some diplomats received threats on social media platforms, leading them to assess their staff complement in India. As a precautionary measure, Canada has decided to temporarily adjust staff presence in India. Canada has also requested additional security measures around its diplomatic missions in India, including the high commission in New Delhi and consulates in Mumbai, Chandigarh, and Bengaluru.
Canada emphasized its expectations for India to provide security for its accredited diplomats and consular officers in India, citing the Vienna Convention, which safeguards diplomats and diplomatic premises.
Security has also been increased at India’s missions in Canada, particularly for senior diplomats, following threats and provocative actions by SFJ. The group issued threats to “shut down Indian missions” on September 25, referring to them as “terror houses.” SFJ had previously released posters with messages like “Kill India” and blamed India for Nijjar’s assassination.