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Canada loses Indian visa power

It’s safe haven for terrorists, says MEA; Ottawa told to downsize its diplomatic headcount. NEW DELHI: Bilateral tensions escalated further on Thursday as India ordered the suspension of all visa services to Canadian citizens and asked the Canadian High Commission in India to downsize their staff to bring parity with Indian diplomats.

India went on to describe Canada as a safe haven for terrorists, with Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi revealing that extradition of 20-25 individuals had been sought based on their antecedents but there was no response to the demand. The foreign office also said Canada did not share any specific information on the killing of Khalistani separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June on its soil, which triggered the standoff. It added that there was a degree of prejudice in Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s allegations on India's role in Nijjar’s murder.

As for the visa suspension, Bagchi said, “Our diplomatic staff in the High Commission and Consulates in Canada are working under threats and in that situation it would not be viable to continue issuing visas. Therefore, we have decided not to provide visa services for the time being. Canadian citizens from third countries too cannot apply for visas.” India expects Canada to downsize its staff at its High Commission and Consulates. “We need diplomatic parity. Their numbers are higher here than ours in Canada. Canadian diplomats also interfere in our domestic affairs,’’ said Bagchi.

Giving it a different spin, the Canadian High Commission in Delhi said it will temporarily adjust its staff presence to ensure the safety of its diplomats. “With some diplomats receiving threats on various social media platforms, Global Affairs Canada is assessing its staff complement in India,” the High Commission said. For his part, Trudeau said in New York — on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly — that he had a direct and frank conversation with his counterpart Narendra Modi in Delhi, in which he shared his concerns. “We call upon India to work with us with full transparency for accountability and justice. We are a country of the rule of law. We are going to continue to do the work necessary to keep Canadians safe and to uphold our values.” (THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)