India suspended issuing visas to Canadian citizens on Thursday, citing “operational reasons.” This comes as India and Canada are locked in a diplomatic row over Ottawa’s claim that it has “credible allegations” linking Indian agents to the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a pro-Khalistan Sikh terrorist. The Indian government has firmly rejected the allegation as “absurd” and “motivated.”
It is not yet clear if the suspension of visas is linked to the row. However, India-Canada ties were already tense after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s conversation with Canada’s Justin Trudeau at the G20 Summit in Delhi this month. The PM expressed India’s “strong concerns about continuing anti-India activities” in that country.
On Monday, months after Nijjar was killed, Mr Trudeau said his country’s security agencies had information indicating “agents of the Indian government” had assassinated the Canadian citizen.
India “completely rejected” the allegations regarding its involvement in Nijjar’s death and underlined its concerns over Canadian political figures openly expressing sympathy for “such elements.”
“Such unsubstantiated allegations seek to shift focus from Khalistani terrorists and extremists, who have been provided shelter in Canada and continue to threaten India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Canadian government’s inaction has been a long-standing and continuing concern.”
As the row escalated, the two countries each expelled a senior official. Ottawa ordered a senior official of the Research and Analysis Wing to leave the country and India ejected a diplomat for “interference… in internal matters and involvement in anti-India activities.”
The suspension of visas is likely to further strain India-Canada relations. It is unclear how long the suspension will remain in place.