India is reviewing the security system in Canada, which led to the suspension of visa services for Canadians, indicating a possible resumption of visa services, that were suspended on September 21.
Canada had temporarily suspended visa and in-person consular services in Bengaluru, Chandigarh and Mumbai. On October 19, Canada also updated its travel advisory for India, noting the presence of calls for protests and an adverse sentiment towards Canada in both traditional media and social media platforms.
All these follow a row triggered by Ottawa’s claim that it has “credible allegations” linking agents of New Delhi to the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a pro-Khalistan Sikh terrorist.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said the main reason for the suspension of visa services to Canadians was “because of the security threat that our diplomats face in Canada.”
“In such a situation,” he added, “it would not be possible for diplomats to reach the mission to issue visas. However, we are reviewing the security situation now and depending on the progress we would like to resume visa issuances to Canadians and it should happen very soon.”
Meanwhile, putting speculation to rest on whether this statement was an outcome of Five Eyes being in sync with Canada, Former Ambassador PS Raghavan said this indicated that Canada had given India assurances on security.
“The hint from Jaishankar that there could be an improvement in security conditions, leading to a restoration of visa services, may mean that some quiet discussions have taken place about credible assurance from Canada on security cover for our diplomats in that country,” Raghavan said.
The security concerns that Indian diplomats have faced in Canada are genuine. Indian diplomats posted in Canada have faced several problems in the past too from Khalistani supporters, a source claimed.
Jaishankar said India was tracking the safety concerns of the Indian diplomats in Canada and there was optimism that they would soon be able to resume duty which would lead to the resuming of visa and consular services.
He also reiterated that according to the Vienna Convention, diplomats should get security from the host country.
The minister also pointed out that the relationship between India and Canada was going through a difficult phase.
“The problem that we have is from a certain segment of Canadians and the policies that flow from it. I want people to understand in a sense the extent of the issue,’’ he added.
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