India has halted the issuance of visas for Canadians and has requested a reduction in the number of Canadian diplomats in the country due to the fallout from Ottawa’s allegations.
In response to Canada’s claim linking India to the killing of a man in British Columbia, the Indian government has decided to stop processing visas for Canadians and has requested a reduction in the number of Canadian diplomats in the country.
“We have informed the Canadian government that there should be an equal number of diplomats of the same rank and strength in our respective diplomatic presence,” said Arindam Bagchi, the spokesperson for the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, during a press conference on September 21.
During the 45-minute press conference, Bagchi mainly addressed questions about Canada.
Meanwhile, Ottawa has announced a reduction in the number of its diplomats in India due to security concerns.
“Global Affairs Canada is evaluating its staff in India due to threats received through various social media platforms,” said Marilyne Guèvremont, spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada.
“As a precautionary measure, we have temporarily adjusted the staff presence in India.”
Bagchi justified India’s request by citing “diplomatic interference” by Canada in India’s internal affairs, although he did not disclose specific details publicly.
This development further strains the relationship between Canada and India, which started deteriorating when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused the Indian government of being involved in the killing of Sikh secessionist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Surrey, B.C. during his visit to India earlier this month.
The rift worsened when Trudeau publicly accused India in the House of Commons on September 18, citing “credible allegations” being investigated by Canadian security agencies.
In response, India has also ceased processing any type of visas for Canadians, including applications made from third countries.
Bagchi justified this measure by referring to the “incitement to violence,” inaction by Canadian authorities, and the creation of a disruptive environment for Indian diplomatic missions in Canada.
India’s actions are in retaliation to the expulsion of a Canadian diplomat on September 19. The day before, Canada had declared the head of India’s intelligence service in Canada as “persona non grata.”
Bagchi stated that the Canadian government’s allegations were made with a biased perspective and appeared to be politically motivated, adding that India had not received any specific information regarding the allegations.
India has frequently complained that Canada provides a safe haven for anti-India activities.
Pierre Poilievre, the leader of the Conservative Party, has called on Trudeau to release more information about the allegations before taking further action such as sanctions against India.
The Canadian government is likely reluctant to share the sensitive information, provided that it may compromise intelligence sources.
Public Safety Minister Dominic Leblanc revealed that Director David Vigneault of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service had recently visited India to discuss the situation with Indian security officials.