During times of increasing diplomatic tensions between India and Canada, visa services for Canadian nationals have been stopped indefinitely by the government of India. BLS International, the company liable for taking care of visa application centers in Canada, informed the stock exchanges of the indefinite break in a regulatory filing.
“Important notice from the Indian Mission: Due to operational reasons, with effect from 21st September 2023 [Thursday], Indian visa services have been suspended till further notice,” said the statement.
Also, the company stressed the fact that the freezing of the services of visas will not affect its revenue materially, as the Canadian visa issuance business contributes less than 2 percent of its total yearly revenues.
An Indian official declared the suspension, refusing to give more details but said that the language is quite clear and they have said whatever has to be informed in the public domain. This is the first time that India has stopped visa services for Canadian nationals after the COVID-19 pandemic times.
In the midst of rising tensions between India and Canada, India has also released an advisory on Wednesday asking students of India and NRIs in Canada to stay alert because of the increasing anti-India activities and what it defined as “politically-condoned hate crimes.” Especially students of India who are in Canada have been asked to stay watchful.
This move of visa suspension came after Ottawa announced a quick adjustment of its staff presence in India, mentioning worries over the safety of its diplomats after threats were written on social media platforms.
Canada’s foreign ministry spokesperson affirmed that some diplomats had obtained threats on social media platforms and noted, “…Global Affairs Canada [the foreign ministry] is assessing its staff complement in India. As a result, and out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to temporarily adjust staff presence in India. All of our locations are staffed by diplomats and locally engaged staff to ensure business and operational continuity.”
A report on Moneycontrol also mentioned how it spoke to a few students studying at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario to understand the present situation in Canada. A parent seems to have spoken to the media outlet and shared how children living there are quite anxious and hoping that the situation doesn’t increase more and hamper their studies or careers. Nothing official from the university has been released either.
The root cause of these escalating tensions started after the assassination of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who was killed in the parking lot of the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara in Surrey, British Columbia. Nijjar was a main personality in the secessionist group Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), which blamed India for orchestrating his killing.
The separation between the two nations was heightened when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reported Indian involvement in the killing of Khalistani leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar. This indictment set off a diplomatic conflict, leading to the removal of senior diplomats from both nations in recent times.