India resumes e-visa for Canadian citizens

India suspended all visa facilities for Canadian citizens following a controversy triggered by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s remarks that Indian agents were responsible for the June 18 killing of Khalistan Tiger Force chief Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

November 22, 2023 04:01 pm | Updated 11:32 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s remarks on the killing of Khalistan Tiger Force chief Hardeep Singh Nijjar had triggered a row. File

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s remarks on the killing of Khalistan Tiger Force chief Hardeep Singh Nijjar had triggered a row. File | Photo Credit: AP

India has resumed e-visa services for Canadian citizens on Wednesday, sources have told The Hindu. The decision came two months after India suspended all visa facilities for Canadian citizens in the wake of a controversy triggered by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s remarks on Indian agents being responsible for the June 18 killing of Khalistan Tiger Force chief Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia. External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar said the situation in Canada has “relatively improved” for the Indian diplomats to perform normal duties.

“What had happened was we had temporarily suspended visa issuance because the situation in Canada made it difficult for our diplomats to go to office and do the necessary work for processing visas. As the situation there has become more secure or relatively improved, I think we have found it possible for the visa services to progressively resume,” said External Affairs Minister Jaishankar during an interaction with the media on Wednesday evening. 

India had stopped visa services at all Indian missions in Canada citing danger to the lives of Indian officials who were being targeted by Canadian nationals who had put out notices echoing Mr. Trudeau’s remarks. That had gradually turned into a blanket ban on visa services for all Canadian citizens across the world. As a result no Canadian citizens could apply for Indian visa even through Indian missions in third countries.

Also Read | Canada investigates Indian government link to killing of Khalistani activist, expels Indian diplomat

Last month, India carried out a “review of the security situation” in its missions in Canada which was followed by External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar’s assurance that visa services would be resumed only if security situation improved. 

The visa crisis was a part of the larger spat between India and Canada that continued over the past several months since the killing of Nijjar and flared up into an unprecedented crisis with the September 18 remarks of Mr. Trudeau when he stood in the Canadian Parliament to accuse Indian officials of the murder. 

Trade pact affected

India had hit back through the visa ban and also through the demanding parity in diplomatic representation which required Canada to repatriate at least 41 of its officials from missions in India. Ties have remained frozen between the two sides which also affected the negotiation for India-Canada trade pact. On September 1, Canada paused the negotiation on the pact citing “political” issues. The issue came up in multiple interactions that India held in recent weeks with partner countries, including with the U.S. and Australia, during the “2+2” dialogue format.

Also Read | Why have India, Canada tensions worsened? | Explained 

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong and Mr. Jaishankar informed the media that India’s diplomatic spat with Canada came up during the bilateral dialogue that the two sides held on Tuesday. However, they did not share more details. 

The resumption of e-visa has come as a positive sign and indicates that the visa facilities may slowly become normal.  

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