Visa services for Canadians soon, says India's foreign minister Jaishankar

India possibly got assurances from Canada on security for diplomats there, say experts.
Foreign Minister S Jaishankar (File photo | AP)
Foreign Minister S Jaishankar (File photo | AP)

NEW DELHI: A day after the US and UK expressed their displeasure over India forcing Canada to withdraw 41 diplomats, foreign minister S Jaishankar said it may soon resume visa services, which were suspended a month ago.

Speaking at an event here on Sunday, Jaishankar said India is reviewing the security situation that its diplomats face in Canada and expressed hope that it may be able to resume visa services soon.  

This, however, need not be viewed as India’s climbdown after pressure from Canada’s Five Eyes allies, say experts. 

“The hint from Jaishankar that there could be an improvement in security conditions, leading to a restoration of visa services, may mean that some quiet discussions have taken place about credible assurance from Canada on security cover for our diplomats in that country,” former diplomat P S Raghavan told this newspaper.

According to sources, the security threat Indian diplomats have faced in Canada is genuine. Indian diplomats posted in Canada have faced problems from Khalistani supporters in the past too, they point out.

India suspended the issuance of visas to Canadians on September 21 citing heightened security threats to its diplomatic missions there and a lack of action by the Canadian authorities to deal with the threats.

Pro-Khalistan groups had called for a shutdown of India’s diplomatic missions in Canada after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau alleged India’s role in killing Canada-based Khalistani militant Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June.

After that, India raised the issue of diplomatic parity with Canada, forcing Ottawa to withdraw over 40 diplomats from India. Trudeau claimed India violated the Vienna Convention, a claim trashed by India. 

On Sunday, Jaishankar clarified that one reason why India sought downsizing of Canadian diplomats here was that they were interfering in the country’s internal affairs.

“We had discomfort with many of them and soon people will realise why we had discomfort with many of them,” he added.

After the ‘excess’ Canadian diplomats were forced to leave India, both the US and UK had rushed to support Ottawa, expressing their displeasure over the diplomatic tussle. In that context, Jaishankar’s announcement on Sunday could ease tensions. 

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