India Suspends Visa Services as Rift With Canada Widens

Country has urged its citizens in Canada to be cautious
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 21, 2023 7:50 AM CDT
India Suspends Visa Services for Canadians
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau walks past Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as they take part in a wreath-laying ceremony at Raj Ghat, Mahatma Gandhi's cremation site, during the G20 Summit in New Delhi, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023.   (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press via AP, File)

India's visa processing center in Canada suspended services Thursday as a rift widened between the countries after Canada's leader said India may have been involved in the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told Parliament on Monday that there were "credible allegations" of Indian involvement in the assassination of Sikh independence activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who had been wanted by India for years and was gunned down in June outside the temple he led. Canada also expelled an Indian diplomat, and India followed by expelling a Canadian diplomat on Tuesday.

"Important notice from Indian Mission: Due to operational reasons, with effect from 21 Sept. Indian visa services have been suspended till further notice," the BLS Indian Visa Application Center in Canada said. It gave no further details. BLS is the agency that processes visa requests for India. India's External Affairs Ministry did not immediately comment. The Canadian High Commission in New Delhi said all its consulates in India are open and are continuing to provide services, but staff safety is being assessed, the AP reports.

On Wednesday, India's External Affairs Ministry issued an updated travel advisory urging its citizens traveling in Canada and especially those studying in the North American country to be cautious because of "growing anti-India activities and politically condoned hate-crimes." The BBC reports that according to the 2021 census, there are 1.4 million people of Indian origin in Canada, making up 3.7% of the country's population. In 2022, the 320,000 students from India made up 40% of Canada's international students. (More Canada stories.)

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