On Thursday, India took the step of suspending new visas for Canadians and requested that Ottawa reduce its diplomatic presence within India, significantly escalating a dispute triggered by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s allegations connecting New Delhi to the murder of a Sikh separatist.
India stated that it was open to examining specific information related to the allegations but noted that Canada had not yet shared any such information. This move, which involves a blanket suspension of new visas for a Western country, represents a historic low point in India-Canada relations.
The announcement of new visas for Canadians followed shortly after Canada’s high commission in India revealed its intention to temporarily “adjust” the presence of its staff in response to threats received by some diplomats on social media platforms. However, the nature of these threats was not specified, and India has pledged to provide “full security and support” to foreign diplomats.
Arindam Bagchi, spokesperson for the Indian foreign ministry, explained that the suspension of new visas for Canadian citizens was due to “security threats” directed at its consulate staff in Canada. However, India did not disclose further details regarding the nature of these threats. In response, Canada’s public safety minister, Dominic LeBlanc, asserted that Canada was indeed a safe country. He stated that as a result of these security concerns, their high commission and consulates were temporarily unable to process visa applications and that the security situation would be subject to regular review.
It’s worth noting that Canada was the fourth largest source of foreign tourists for India in 2019, with 350,000 visitors. However, this number declined due to the COVID-19 pandemic.