India’s External Affairs Minister, S Jaishankar, has announced the temporary suspension of visas for Canadians due to concerns over the safety and security of Indian diplomats. This development comes as the diplomatic rift between India and Canada escalates, with international leaders urging de-escalation and respect for the rule of law.
Background of Strained Relations:
Relations between India and Canada have deteriorated significantly following Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s accusation of India’s involvement in the killing of Khalistani separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia in June. India strongly denied the allegations, terming them as absurd and motivated. In response, India expelled a senior Canadian diplomat, mirroring Ottawa’s earlier expulsion of an Indian official over the same case. India also suspended visa services for Canadians in a tit-for-tat move.
Extradition Requests and Counterterrorism:
The Indian government has repeatedly requested the extradition of individuals associated with extremist forces who have managed to enter Canada. However, these requests have largely gone unanswered by the Canadian government. Minister Jaishankar reiterated India’s stance that freedom of speech should not be used as a cover for supporting terrorism and extremism.
Temporary Visa Suspension:
Jaishankar clarified that the suspension of visas for Canadians is a temporary measure. He explained that Indian diplomats in Canada have faced a hostile environment, making their free movement difficult and exposing them to potential violence. In light of these security concerns, India has a responsibility to protect its citizens, including its diplomats. The visas will remain suspended until the situation improves, emphasizing that this is a temporary precautionary measure.
International Calls for De-escalation:
Despite the tensions, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have both stressed the importance of de-escalating the diplomatic row between India and Canada and upholding the rule of law.
India’s decision to temporarily suspend visas underscores the government’s commitment to the safety and security of its diplomats and citizens abroad, as efforts to address the diplomatic dispute between the two countries continue.