India had in September “suspended till further notice” its visa services in Canada amid a diplomatic row following remarks of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about the suspected involvement of “agents of the Indian government” in the killing of a Khalistani separatist in June.
India had rejected the allegations as “absurd and motivated” and expelled a Canadian diplomat in a tit-for-tat move over Canada’s decision.Last week, Canada pulled 41 diplomats from India, after New Delhi had conveyed its concerns over parity in diplomatic strength. Ottawa also halted its visa and consular services in Chandigarh, Mumbai, and Bengaluru consulates.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had said last week that India will resume issuing visas to Canadian citizens if it “sees progress” in the safety of its diplomats.A press release by the Indian High Commission in Ottawa said on Wednesday that the High Commission and its Consulates General in Toronto and Vancouver, “were constrained to suspend visa services temporarily because of safety and security considerations”.
“After a considered review of the security situation that takes into account some recent Canadian measures in this regard, it has been decided to resume visa services for the following categories with effect from October 26, 2023: (a) Entry Visa (b) Business Visa (c) Medical Visa, and (d) Conference Visa,” the release said. It said the emergency situations will continue to be addressed by the High Commission and the Consulates General as it is being done currently.
“Further decisions, as appropriate, would be intimated based on continuing evaluation of the situation,” the press release said. Jaishankar had said that India-Canada relations are going through a “difficult phase” and New Delhi has problems with a “certain segment” of Ottawa’s politics.”The relationship right now is going through a difficult phase. But I do want to say the problems we have are with a certain segment of Canadian politics and the policies which flow from that. Right now the big concern which people have is on visas. Some weeks ago, we stopped issuing visas in Canada because it was no longer safe for our diplomats to go to work to issue visas. So their safety and security was the primary reason we had to temporarily stop the issue of visas. We’re tracking it very closely,” he added.
“My hope, my expectation is that the situation would improve in the sense that our people would have greater confidence in being able to do their basic duty as diplomats. Because ensuring the safety and security of diplomats is the most fundamental aspect of the Vienna Convention,” Jaishankar said.
India has expressed its concern over Canada providing a “safe haven” to terrorists. “We should look at the larger issue of terrorism. And not just terrorism, but also the fact that it is being funded and supported. And we know this for some time, from our western neighbour Pakistan. But the issue of safe havens and places to operate is being provided abroad, including in Canada. We would expect that, that is the main focus. The question is, do we have the political will to address terrorism?” MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi had said in a weekly media briefing last month.