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India suspends visa services for Canadian citizens amid diplomatic row

In a move triggered by an escalating diplomatic row, India has indefinitely suspended visa services for Canadian citizens, citing “operational reasons.” The suspension, effective immediately, was announced by BLS International Services Limited, the agency responsible for visa processing on behalf of the Indian government in Canada.

The diplomatic tensions between the two nations were ignited by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent allegations of Indian government involvement in the murder of Hardeep Singh Najjar, a Canadian Sikh separatist leader, on Canadian soil in June. Trudeau, in a statement to the Canadian Parliament, condemned any foreign government’s alleged interference in Canada’s domestic affairs, stating that it constituted an “unacceptable violation of our sovereignty.”

In response to Trudeau’s accusations, Canada took swift actions. They expelled an Indian diplomat, who was identified as the head of the intelligence wing at the Indian High Commission in Ottawa. Canada’s move was met with strong denials from India, with Indian authorities labeling the allegations as “absurd.” In a tit-for-tat response, India ordered a high-ranking Canadian diplomat stationed in Delhi to leave the country within five days.

The suspension of visa services for Canadian citizens is the latest measure taken by India amid the growing diplomatic standoff. The notice issued by BLS International Services Limited stated, “Due to operational reasons, with effect from September 21, 2023, Indian visa services have been suspended until further notice. Please keep checking BLS website for further updates.”

In addition to the suspension of visa services, India has issued a new travel advisory for its citizens, cautioning them against traveling to certain parts of Canada. This advisory reflects the increasing tensions between the two nations and is seen as a precautionary measure to ensure the safety of Indian nationals.

The diplomatic spat between India and Canada has raised concerns about the future of their bilateral relations. Both countries have historically maintained friendly ties, and their cooperation has spanned various fields, including trade, education, and technology.

Read more: ‘We know India, not surprised by Canadian allegations’: Pakistan

Efforts to de-escalate the situation and reopen channels of communication are expected in the coming weeks. The international community is closely watching the developments, hoping for a peaceful resolution to the current standoff between India and Canada.

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