India on Thursday suspended visa services for Canadian nationals until further notice citing ‘operations reasons’. The move comes amid heightened tensions between the two countries over the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
“Due to operational reasons, with effect from 21 September 2023, Indian visa services have been suspended till further notice. Please keep checking BLS website for further updates," the visa application portal BLS said in a message.
On Monday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that his government was investigating “credible allegations” that Indian government agents were linked to the 18 June killing of Nijjar. The khalistani terrorist was shot dead outside a Gurudwara in Surrey, British Columbia.
The suspension marks the first instance that India has suspended visa services since the beginning of Covid-19 pandemic.
India also issued an advisory urging Indian students and NRIs in Canada to exercise utmost caution due to growing anti-India crimes and “politically-condoned hate crimes”. Indian students have particularly been advised to remain vigilant.
Nijjar was assassinated in the parking lot of the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurudwara that he headed in the Surrey town in the province of British Columbia. He was a prominent figure in the secessionist group Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), which has blamed India for Nijjar’s assassination.
Following Trudeau’s statement on Monday, Canada expelled 1997 Punjab cadre IPS Pawan Kumar Rai, who was posted at the Indian mission in Ottawa.
On Tuesday, India expelled top Canadian diplomat and intelligence officer Olivier Sylvestre for interference in "internal matters and their involvement in anti-India activities".