Agency hired to scrutinise visa applications withdraws suspension hours later then reinstates it
High Commission of Canada in India in New Delhi. Pic/PTI
In a series of flip-flops, a private agency hired by India to carry out initial scrutiny of visa applications of Canadians on Thursday put out a note on its website on suspension of visa services due to “operational reasons”, withdrew it within hours and then again put it back online.
The agency, BLS International, also informed the stock exchanges that it had suspended India visa services in Canada with immediate effect. The note put on Canada page of the firm’s website, which was withdrawn and restored later, read, “Important notice from Indian mission. Due to operational reasons, with effect from September 21, 2023, Indian visa services have been suspended till further notice. Please keep checking BLS website for further updates.”
Screengrab of the BLS website
BLS International Services Limited, a listed company, also said in its stock exchange filing that the impact of this move is negligible on its financials as “the Canadian visa issuance business contributes less than two per cent to BLS Internationals’ total annual revenue”. India and Canada are embroiled in a diplomatic row over the killing of a Khalistani separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June.
Canada temporarily adjust staff in India
Canada on Thursday said it is assessing its staff complement in India and taking action to ensure safety of its diplomats in the country claiming that some of them have received threats on various social media platforms. The Canadian High Commission said Ottawa expects New Delhi to provide for the security of its diplomats and consular officers in India and that it has decided to “temporarily” adjust staff presence in the country as a precautionary measure. “With some diplomats having received threats on various social media platforms, Global Affairs Canada is assessing its staff complement in India,” the high commission said.
Take allegations seriously: Trudeau
Canadian PM Justin Trudeau Thursday reiterated that there are “credible allegations” as he urged the government of India to work with his country to allow justice to follow its course in the killing of a Khalistani extremist leader. “We call upon the GOI to take this matter seriously and to work with us to shed full transparency. and ensure accountability and justice in this matter. We are a country of the rule of law.” he said.
Some prejudice in Trudeau’s allegations: MEA
India on Thursday said there is a degree of prejudice in Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s allegations against it on the killing of a Khalistani separatist in Canada and termed these as “politically motivated”. The MEA said Canada did not share any specific information with India. When asked at a press conference whether New Delhi has apprised its views to its allies on the row, spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said India has conveyed its position. He also said the Indian high commission and consulates in Canada are temporarily unable to process visa applications in view of disruption of work due to security issues.
‘Punjabis in panic over India-Canada ties’
Amid strains in India-Canada ties, Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal on Thursday met Amit Shah and hoped for a quick resolution to disputes between the two countries, noting that Punjabis in large numbers live there and the deteriorating relations have left them in a state of panic. “Both governments, India’s as well as Canada’s, should find a solution as soon as possible,” he said.
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