The growing bilateral dispute between India and Canada is showing no sign of abating. In the middle of ongoing conflict, the Indian government has today banned the Visa services for Canadians, indefinitely alleging security threats for diplomats. Indian Visa service provider BLS Internationals posted a message from India’s mission blaming “operational reasons” for the decision, but still no formal announcement has been made. An Indian official just confirmed the decision of BLS International but denied making any further comments on the matter.
The Canadian portal of Indian visa outsourcing provider BLS International notes that visa services have been suspended since September 21, starting today. The message says: Important Notice from Embassy of India: Due to operational reasons, Indian visa services are suspended from September 21, 2023, until further notice. For more information please refer to the BLS website. In practice, this means that visas will no longer be issued by the Indian mission in Canada, which primarily serves Canadian citizens.
The move came a day after India issued an advisory urging its citizens travelling to or residing in Canada to exercise “extreme caution” regarding “anti-Indian activities and politically sanctioned hate crimes and criminal violence in Canada.” There are 1.4 million people of Indian origin living in Canada, representing 3.7% of the country’s population as of the 2021 census. India also sends the most international students to Canada, accounting for 40 per cent of all international students in 2022, at 320,000.
India and Canada are locked in an international dispute over Ottawa’s claim that it has “credible allegations” linking New Delhi agents to the killing of pro-Khalistan Sikh terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar. The Indian government strongly rejected the accusation as absurd and motivated. It is not yet clear if the visa suspension is related to the row.
As relations between India and Canada deteriorate due to the ongoing bilateral dispute, another Khalistani terrorist is murdered. Sukhdool Singh was shot dead in the Canadian city of Winnipeg late on Wednesday night. The Khalistani terrorist had links with the Bambiha gang and was killed in the same manner as Nijjar. Sukhdool Singh Gill aka Sukha Duneke fled to Canada in 2017 after being accused of murder and extortion.