India indefinitely suspends Canada visa services amid escalating tensions.

Amid escalating diplomatic tensions between India and Canada, the Indian government has suspended visa services for Canadian nationals indefinitely.

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The suspension was announced by BLS International, the company responsible for managing visa application centers in Canada, on its Canadian website. The message stated that Indian visa services have been suspended due to operational reasons, starting from September 21, 2023. An Indian official confirmed the suspension but did not provide further details.

This marks the first time India has suspended visa services since the Covid-19 pandemic began. Tensions have been rising, leading India to issue an advisory urging Indian students and NRIs in Canada to exercise caution due to increasing anti-India activities and politically-condoned hate crimes.

In response, Canada announced a temporary adjustment of its staff presence in India, citing concerns over the safety of its diplomats following threats on social media platforms. Canada’s foreign ministry spokesperson confirmed the threats and stated that they were assessing their staff complement in India.

The catalyst for this escalation was the assassination of Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Surrey, British Columbia, a prominent figure in the secessionist group Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), which accused India of orchestrating his killing. The dispute worsened when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau alleged Indian involvement in the assassination, leading to the expulsion of senior diplomats from both nations earlier in the week.

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