India Resumes Visa Services for Canadians Following Diplomatic Row – South Asia Time

India Resumes Visa Services for Canadians Following Diplomatic Row

 October 29, 2023  

New Delhi — In a significant diplomatic development, India has announced the resumption of visa services for Canadian citizens, marking the end of a suspension that was initiated in September. The temporary halt in visa services had stirred tension between the two nations, and while it was initially attributed to “security threats,” it was closely linked to a grave dispute concerning a Sikh separatist’s murder on Canadian soil.

At the heart of the discord was the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a prominent Sikh separatist leader who was fatally shot in Surrey, British Columbia, in June. Canadian authorities had launched an investigation into the incident, probing allegations of India’s involvement in the murder. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s stance on the matter had further strained relations between the two nations.

India vehemently denied any involvement in the killing, dismissing the allegations as “absurd.” The ensuing diplomatic clash led to the suspension of visa services, leaving many Canadians, including those of Indian origin and immediate family members, in limbo.

However, in a statement issued on Wednesday, Indian officials announced their decision to recommence visa services, citing a reassessment of the security situation at their missions in Canada. They also alluded to unspecified “recent Canadian measures” that factored into their decision.

The resumption of services, set to commence on Thursday, will encompass a range of visa categories, including entry visas, business visas, medical visas, and conference visas. Entry visas are specific to “persons of Indian origin” and their family members, while business, medical, and conference visas serve varying purposes, promoting people-to-people and business exchanges between the two nations.

The statement from the Indian authorities emphasized that “further decisions, as appropriate, would be intimated based on continuing evaluation of the situation,” signaling an ongoing effort to improve diplomatic relations between the two countries.

The dispute had reached a point where Canada withdrew dozens of its diplomats from India, responding to India’s threats to revoke diplomatic immunity. India had long demanded parity in the number of diplomats between the two nations.