New Delhi, September 21
The Government on Thursday pressed ahead with more retaliatory measures against Ottawa including the suspension of visas from its missions in the country and asking the High Commission here to reduce its staff so as to be commensurate with the Indian staff strength in Canada.
India also said Canada has provided no specificinformation regarding Sikh terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijar's murder on June 18. On the other hand, Canada has not acted on any of the several dossiers provided by India on the activities of Indian-origin terrorists, radicals and gangsters who have found a safe haven in Canada, said MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi at a media briefing here on Thursday.
VIDEO | "Our High Commissions and Consulates are facing security threats in Canada and cannot process Visa applications temporarily. The security situation is due to inaction by Canada government. We will review it on a regular basis," says MEA spokesperson on Visa issue amid… pic.twitter.com/THkPC1Tiyu— Press Trust of India (@PTI_News) September 21, 2023
On Wednesday, the Government had issued a strongly-worded travel advisory on Canada and a day earlier, it had expelled the Station Head of Canadian Intelligence posted here.
“Clearly, we would expect better steps from the Canadians to ensure the safety of the diplomats and the Indian origin community in Canada. There are elements linked to organised crime, terrorists and extremists who are having a free run and committing politically condoned crimes. We would hope the Indian community and diplomats would feel safe,” observed Bagchi.
The announcement of suspension of all categories of visas was announced in the morning, leading to consternation among a large number of relatives of Indo-Canadian here with several prominent leaders including former Punjab Deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal.
But MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said the issue is not about travel to India but of incitement to violence and creation of an environment that makes the functioning of consulates difficult. “You are aware of the security threats that our diplomats are facing. Because of this, their normal work has been disrupted. So, the High Commission and the consulates are temporarily unable to process visa applications. We will review this on a regular basis,” observed Bagchi.
However, those who have valid visas for India or OCIs cards are free to travel, he added.
“We are looking for parity on rank and strength,” said Bagchi while announcing a study to examine the strength of the Canadian missions here relative to the strength of the Indian missions in Canada. But in an announcement made earlier, Canada said it was reducing the number of diplomats in India due to security concerns.
With some Canadian diplomats complaining about being viciously trolled on social media, Bagchi said, “We take the Vienna Convention very seriously. We shall certainly provide all security. We would expect Canadian authorities to show similar sensitivity to posters inciting violence against our diplomats and take their obligations a little more seriously.”
Asked about Canada denying visas to former army officials and Intelligence Bureau personnel who have served in Punjab, Bagchi admitted that there were cases of some Indians not being given fair treatment or even of discrimination. And, the Indian government has raised this issue with Ottawa, he added.
Bagchi also said India has been engaged with friendly countries on various issues including this one. “We have been discussing, have conveyed our position and how we see the developments,” he observed.
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