India suspends visa services for Canadians citing ‘operational reasons’

New Delhi, Sep 21 (EFE).- Indian visa services for Canadian nationals have been indefinitely suspended due to “operational reasons,” the operator of visa application centers in Canada announced.

“Important notice from Indian Mission: Due to operational reasons, with effect from 21 September 2023, Indian visa services have been suspended till further notice,” BLS International said on its website where Canadians citizens submit their visa applications.

“Please keep checking (the) BLS website for further updates,” it added.

The Indian authorities have not commented on the suspension of the services, which comes amid a diplomatic crisis between both countries due to the murder of a Sikh separatist leader in Canada.

On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the Canadian parliament that his government was investigating “credible allegations” that could link the Indian government to the killing of Sikh leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia in June.

India dismissed the claims as “absurd” and “motivated,” accusing the Canadian government of attempting to “shift the focus from terrorists and extremists.”

Both countries expelled two senior diplomats from their respective nations, further straining their fragile relations.

On Wednesday, India asked its citizens in the North American country to exercise “utmost caution” in view of “growing anti-India activities and politically-condoned hate crimes and criminal violence in Canada.”

The friction in bilateral relations is not new.

New Delhi has repeatedly accused Canada of harboring terrorists who seek an independent Sikh homeland, known as Khalistan, in India’s Punjab state.

In turn, Canada, home to over 770,000 Sikhs, comprising approximately 2 percent of the total population, has defended the right to freedom of expression and peaceful protest. EFE


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