Problem stems from the "deliberately" broad legislation: Canadian Minister

Canada has regretted the use of the language that “cast false impressions” in the denial of visa to former or serving members of the Indian armed forces and security institutions and assured India that it is reviewing the admissibility policy set forth in the legislation on visa policy.

This followed a belated, but sharp Indian reaction to the Canadian authorities citing reasons such as human rights violation while declining visas to Indians who were or are associated with the security and intelligence organisations.

In a statement aimed at assuaging India's sentiments, Canadian Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney deeply regretted the incident in which letters drafted by his consular officials during routine visa refusal cast “false aspersions” on the legitimacy of work carried out by Indian defence and security institutions.

These organisations, he acknowledged, operated under the framework of “democratic processes and the rule of law,” and assessments of candidates, in no way, questioned the functioning of these organisations.

Dissociating Ottawa from the language or the “inaccurate” impression it has created, Mr. Kenney felt that the problem arose from the “deliberately” broad legislation on visa policy that led to officials casting the net “too widely.” For this reason, Canada was actively reviewing the admissibility policy.

Canadian officials who suggested association of employers of visa applicants with rights violations and a hand in subversive activities were, however, “non-partisan” public servants and followed an “independent process” based on Canada's immigration law, Mr. Kenney said. It has now come out that these officials drew on “open sources” of information while telling visa officials that their serving or former organisations were rights violators.

The Ministry of External Affairs took up the issue with Canada in a big way. On Thursday, External Affairs Minster S.M. Krishna termed the remarks made in the visa rejection letters “unacceptable.”

Home Ministry's threat

Offended by the issuance of a different category of visa, than the normal one, to an intelligence officer and member of the Prime Minister's advance party for the G-20 Ottawa summit, the Home Ministry had threatened to apply similar criteria for Canadian armed forces and intelligence officers bound for the “war on terror” in Afghanistan.

The Ministry also suggested that it would be satisfied with no less than a time-bound apology, or otherwise it would retaliate by rejecting applications from the Canadian security services. So far, nearly a dozen cases of former and serving senior Army and intelligence officers having been insulted have come to light. What is surprising is that some of them had visited Canada earlier, but their vocation had suddenly become an impediment since 2008.

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