NEW DELHI: India’s official visa processor in Canada on Thursday (Sep 21) withdrew a notice about a suspension of services for Canadians, shortly after it posted the announcement on its website.
BLS International earlier said visa services had been suspended following a notice from the Indian Mission.
“Important notice from Indian Mission: Due to operational reasons, with effect from Sep 21, 2023, Indian visa services have been suspended till further notice,” BLS International posted on its website.
The company removed the announcement shortly after it was splashed across Indian media.
An official at New Delhi-headquartered BLS said they did not want to be quoted and referred AFP to Indian authorities. There was no immediate comment from India’s foreign ministry.
India and Canada have been locked in a diplomatic row sparked by Ottawa’s accusation that New Delhi was involved in the killing of a Sikh separatist near Vancouver.
On Wednesday, India warned its citizens against visiting parts of Canada.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has demanded that India treat with “utmost seriousness” its allegations about the murder.
The fallout prompted tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions and a forceful denial from India, which said any suggestion it played a role in the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar was “absurd”.
Without explicitly referring to the dispute, India’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday it was concerned for the safety of its citizens in Canada because of “politically-condoned hate crimes and criminal violence”.
“Threats have particularly targeted Indian diplomats and sections of the Indian community who oppose the anti-India agenda,” a ministry statement said.
“Indian nationals are therefore advised to avoid travelling to regions and potential venues in Canada that have seen such incidents.”
Canadian Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc dismissed India’s warning. “Canada is a safe country,” he told reporters.
Nijjar was in June shot by two masked assailants outside the Sikh temple he presided over in Surrey, an outer suburb of Vancouver.
An activist for the creation of a Sikh state known as Khalistan, Nijjar was wanted by Indian authorities for alleged terrorism and conspiracy to commit murder.
He had denied those charges, according to the World Sikh Organization of Canada, a nonprofit organisation that says it defends the interests of Canadian Sikhs.