The official visa processor for India in Canada said on Thursday that it had been instructed to stop processing applications before removing the statement in the midst of a diplomatic dispute brought on by Ottawa’s claim that New Delhi was complicit in the killing of a Sikh separatist.
The warning was taken off from BLS’ website not long after it was widely covered by Indian media. From India’s foreign ministry, there was no quick response.
An official at BLS, which has its headquarters in New Delhi, said that they did not want to be cited and directed the news agency to Indian authorities.
“Important notice from Indian Mission: Due to operational reasons, with effect from 21 September 2023, Indian visa services have been suspended till further notice,” BLS International had posted on their website Thursday.
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has demanded India treat with “utmost seriousness” allegations that Indian agents played a role in the June murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar near Vancouver.
The suspension of visas comes a day after India’s foreign ministry said it was concerned for the safety of its citizens in Canada because of “politically-condoned hate crimes and criminal violence”.
“Threats have particularly targeted Indian diplomats and sections of the Indian community who oppose the anti-India agenda,” a ministry statement said Wednesday.
“Indian nationals are therefore advised to avoid travelling to regions and potential venues in Canada that have seen such incidents.”
The advisor did not specify which cities or regions Indians should avoid.
Nijjar was gunned down by two masked assassins outside the Sikh temple he presided over in Surrey, a Vancouver suburb.
Nijjar, a campaigner for the establishment of a Sikh state known as Khalistan, was wanted by Indian police for alleged terrorist and murder conspiracy.