India has stopped granting new visas to Canadians due to tense relations between the two countries. Photo/Reuters
NEW DELHI – India suspended new visas for Canadians and asked Ottawa to reduce its diplomatic presence in the country.
This escalated the row sparked by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s accusations of linking New Delhi to the killing of Sikh separatists.
India’s foreign ministry said Canada had not shared any specific information regarding the allegations leveled by Trudeau and that New Delhi was willing to consider them if any.
India’s suspension of new visas for Western countries is unprecedented and represents a low point in India-Canada relations.
The announcement came hours after Canada’s high commission in India said it would temporarily “adjust” staff presence in the country after several diplomats received threats on social media platforms.
But Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi said Ottawa had been asked to reduce the number of its diplomatic missions in India to balance missions between the two countries.
Bagchi said India was delaying the issuance of new visas to Canadian citizens due to “security threats” to its staff at its consulate in Canada.
India has not provided any evidence or provided details regarding the nature of the security threat, and Canadian Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc said in response on Wednesday that Canada is a safe country.
“You are aware of the security threats faced by our high commission and consulates in Canada. This is disrupting their normal functioning,” Bagchi told reporters at a weekly briefing on Thursday.
“Therefore, our high commission and consulates are temporarily unable to process visa applications,” he said, adding that the security situation would be reviewed periodically.