India stops new visas for Canadians, asks Ottawa to downsize missions as altercation intensifies

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New Delhi, India on Thursday suspended new visas for Canadians and requested that Ottawa reduce its diplomatic presence in the country, sharply escalating an altercation triggered by Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau’s accusations linking New Delhi to a Sikh separatist’s murder.


India was willing to look into specific information concerning the accusations, its foreign ministry said, stating that Canada has not brought out any report on the ongoing investigation.


This kind of suspension by India for a Western country is unheard of and marks the lowest point of India-Canada relations.


The announcement came hours after Canada’s high commission in India said it would temporarily “adjust” staff presence after some diplomats received threats on social media platforms. The mission did not specify the nature of the dangers, and India has said it would provide “all security and all support” to foreign diplomats.


Indian foreign ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said India suspended issuing new visas to Canadian citizens due to “security threats” to its staff in its consulates in Canada.


India did not give details of the nature of these security threats, and Canada’s public safety minister Dominic LeBlanc said in response that Canada was a safe country for their citizens.


“Accordingly our high commission and consulates are temporarily unable to process visa applications,” he told reporters at a weekly briefing on Thursday, adding that the security situation would be reviewed regularly.


The unprecedented traction flared up on Monday after Trudeau said Ottawa was investigating “credible allegations” about the potential involvement of Indian government agents in the June murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government denied any links to the alleged murder.


Canadian officials have so far refused to say why they believe India could be linked to Nijjar’s murder.


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