India on Thursday suspended all visa services for Canadians and ordered a reduction of diplomatic staffing — a dramatic escalation of tensions between the two countries since Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau levied accusations of Indian involvement in an assassination of a Canadian citizen on its soil.
“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, according to The Associated Press.
The notice affects Canadians who do not already have visas and incudes e-visas and visas issued in other countries.
Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi called for a comparable diplomatic response amid rising tensions and reportedly confirmed the temporary suspension of processing visa requests.
“Security threats being faced by our High Commission and consulates in Canada have disrupted their normal functioning,” Bagchi said, as reported by the AP. “Accordingly, they are temporarily unable to process visa applications. We will be reviewing the situation on a regular basis.”
“We have informed the Canadian government that there should be parity in strength and rank equivalence in our mutual diplomatic presence,” he added, calling for the reduction of Canadian diplomats in India.
Tensions have continued to escalate between the two countries this week.
Trudeau said on Monday there were “credible allegations” that India was involved in the killing of 45-year-old Canadian citizen Hardeep Singh Nijjar — a self-described “Sikh nationalist who believes in and supports Sikhs’ right to self-determination.” He had been wanted by Indian authorities for years, according to the AP.
Nijjar was killed outside a Vancouver-area temple in June.
Trudeau has not provided any public proof of his allegation, and India’s government has vehemently denied involvement. Since Monday, each country has expelled a diplomat.
On Wednesday, India’s Ministry of External Affairs issued an advisory to Indian nationals and students in Canada, warning “of growing anti-India activities and politically-condoned hate crimes and criminal violence in Canada.”
“All Indian nationals there and those contemplating travel are urged to exercise utmost caution,” the ministry said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Recently, threats have particularly targeted Indian diplomats and sections of the Indian community who oppose the anti-India agenda.”
“Indian nationals are therefore advised to avoid travelling to regions and potential venues in Canada that have seen such incidents,” the ministry added.
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