Amid the soaring tensions between India and Canada, the Ministry of External Affairs, on Thursday said that New Delhi has raised concerns about the ongoing developments related to the killing of Khalistani terrorists in Ottawa and tagged the allegations as "politically motivated".
While addressing a press conference on the ongoing Canada issue, MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said Ottawa has not shared any proof of the allegations levelled by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau regarding the link between the killing of a Khalistani supporter Hardeep Singh Nijjar and Indian agents.
He categorically rejected the claims made by Trudeau at the House of Commons and said it has hurt the relations between the two nations.
MEA on suspension of Indian visa for Canadian citizens
While answering the question on the suspension of Indian visas for Canadians, the MEA said Indian High Commission consulates in Canada were temporarily unable to process visa applications as work was disrupted due to security issues. Also, he said the suspension is applicable to all categories of visas including the e-visa facility.
Earlier today, New Delhi suspended visa services for Canadian nationals. According to reports, India has also ordered to minimise the strength of diplomatic staff in Ottawa in order to secure them from threats posed by Khalistani terror groups and social media platforms.
BLS International, which runs the visa application centres in Canada, published a message on its Canadian site. "Important notice from the Indian Mission: Due to operational reasons, with effect from 21st September 2023 [Thursday], Indian visa services have been suspended till further notice," read the notice. Notably, earlier, India had suspended visa services for Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Further, commenting on the issue of Indian students in Canada, the MEA spokesperson clarified there is no special plan to take back them but suggested staying vigilant.
Expulsion of diplomats
Regarding the expulsion of diplomats from both sides, Bagchi said India's response came after Canadian authority suspended Indian diplomats in Ottawa. Further, he said India has not ordered Ottawa to limit their staff in New Delhi but added it was expected the Canadian authorities will minimise their diplomatic strength.
He categorically claimed that Canadian authorities are interfering in the internal affairs of New Delhi. "India is strictly following the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. We will definitely be providing adequate security to the Canadian diplomats in New Delhi and hope Ottawa will also do the same with our envoys," said the MEA spokesperson.
The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 is an international treaty that defines a framework for diplomatic relations between independent countries.
What does India want from the Canadian govt?
Replying to the questions over India's demand to the Canadian authorities, he said Ottawa must not promote posters which threaten diplomats in the Indian High Commission and added it should take strict action against anti-India activities.
Recently, the pro-Khalistan organisation Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), in a video message, warned Hindus living in Canada and asked them to leave the country as soon as possible.
Indo-Hindu leaves Canada; go to India. You not only support India, but you are also supporting the suppression of speech and expression of pro-Khalistan Sikhs," SFJ’s legal counsel Gurpatwant Singh Pannu said in a video that went viral on social media platforms.
Further, he appealed to all the Sikhs to accumulate in Surrey, Vancouver on October 29 to vote: "Whether Indian High Commissioner Verma is responsible for the assassination of Hardeep Singh Nijjar?"
Notably, Pannu, a top member of Sikhs for Justice, an outlawed organisation in India, was designated as a wanted terrorist in 2020.
Story so far
The major development between the two nations came as PM Trudeau, who had recently visited New Delhi for the G20 Summit where he held a bilateral meeting with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, alleged that Canadian intelligence agencies have "credible" information about the involvement of New Delhi in the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
Even, while addressing the Canadian Parliament on Monday, Trudeau claimed that he had raised the issue with PM Modi during their bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in New Delhi.
Subsequently, Canadian FM announced the expulsion of an Indian diplomat. Soon after her announcement, India released a statement where it condemned the "baseless" allegations levelled by PM Trudeau.
“Such unsubstantiated allegations seek to shift the focus from Khalistani terrorists and extremists, who have been provided shelter in Canada and continue to threaten India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” it wrote in a statement issued earlier today.
As the matter turned a diplomatic chaos, Trudeau said he was not trying to provoke New Delhi but rather wanted his Indian counterpart to address the issue properly.