In the midst of an escalating diplomatic dispute between India and Canada, India has taken the unprecedented step of indefinitely suspending visa services for Canadian citizens.
This surprising move, attributed to “operational reasons,” was announced on Thursday by BLS International Services Limited, an outsourced visa processing service provider working on behalf of the Indian government in Canada.
The root of this escalating conflict lies in Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s allegations of Indian government involvement in the June murder of Hardeep Singh Najjar, a prominent Canadian Sikh separatist leader. These accusations have triggered a rapid exchange of claims and retaliatory measures between the two nations.
The official notice issued by BLS International Services stated, “Due to operational reasons, with effect from September 21, 2023, Indian visa services have been suspended until further notice. Please keep checking BLS website for further updates.”
The relationship between India and Canada has markedly deteriorated in the wake of Trudeau’s allegations. In a recent address to the Canadian Parliament, he asserted, “Any involvement of a foreign government in the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty.”
As a part of their response, Canada has expelled an Indian diplomat who was identified as the head of the intelligence wing of the Indian High Commission in Ottawa. In response, India has vehemently refuted these allegations, labeling them as “absurd.” In retaliation, India has ordered a senior Canadian diplomat based in Delhi to leave the country within a five-day timeframe.
In a further manifestation of the escalating tension, India has issued a new travel advisory cautioning its citizens against traveling to specific areas of Canada. This advisory underscores the rapidly deteriorating relationship between the two nations and raises concerns about the future of their diplomatic ties.