India suspends visa services for Canadians as stand-off escalates

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India on Thursday, 21st of September, 2023, suspended visa services for Canadian citizens, a foreign ministry spokesperson said, citing security threats to its staff in its consulates in Canada.

The announcement came hours after Canada’s high commission in India said it would temporarily “adjust” staff presence in the country after some diplomats received threats on social media platforms.

The steps mark further escalation of tensions between the two countries set off by Canada’s announcement that it was “actively pursuing credible allegations” linking Indian government agents to the murder of a Sikh separatist leader in June.

“The security situation because of the Canadian government’s inaction has resulted in disruptions and we have suspended visa applications”, Arindam Bagchi, told reporters in New Delhi, adding that all categories of visas, including e-visas are suspended.

BLS International, an Indian company that offers visa facilities, said the notice from the Indian mission in Canada cited “operational reasons” for the suspension of visa services “till further notice”.

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

Relation of both countries at lowest point as reviewed by analysts.

“In light of the current environment where tensions have heightened, we are taking action to ensure the safety of our diplomats,” the Canadian High Commission said in a statement.

“With some diplomats having received threats on various social media platforms, Global Affairs Canada is assessing its staff complement in India,” it said, referring to the department that manages Ottawa’s diplomatic and consular relations.

“As a result, and out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to temporarily adjust staff presence in India,” it said, without elaborating on what it meant by that adjustment.
This is a thread to trade ties between the two nations.

After the expulsions of senior diplomats, the two countries issued tit-for-tat travel advisories on Tuesday and Wednesday, with India urging its nationals in Canada, especially students, to exercise “utmost caution”. 

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