India renews e-visas for Canadian citizens after two-month break amid diplomatic row

India lifts electronic visa restrictions just hours before virtual G20 meeting

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar
Wednesday 22 November 2023 11:04 GMT
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Related: Justin Trudeau accuses India of being involved in killing Sikh leader in Canada

India has resumed electronic visa services for Canadian nationals after a two-month pause amid heightened diplomatic tension with Ottawa over the killing of a Sikh separatist leader.

The electronic visa services were back in order on Wednesday, in a move seen as India’s bid to de-escalate the crisis, which saw both nations expel each other’s diplomats and raise travel advisories.

India issues electronic visas for tourism, medical, and business purposes for Canadian nationals.

The visa suspension was lifted just hours before India’s G20 virtual summit, which is likely to be attended by Canadian president Justin Trudeau on Wednesday.

It would be prime minister Narendra Modi and Mr Trudeau’s first interaction since the two countries exchanged barbs over the death of Canadian national Hardeep Singh Nijjara designated terrorist in India.

New Delhi had suspended all categories of visa services in September after Mr Trudeau accused the Indian government of being involved in the death of Nijjar, who was shot dead by masked gunmen in June in Surrey, outside Vancouver.

India has vehemently denied what it called an “absurd” allegation, arguing it wasn’t the government’s policy.

The Narendra Modi government last month partially restored visa services in four of the 13 categories, including entry, business, and medical visas.

Owing to the bitter feud, Canada was forced to remove 41 diplomats from India after New Delhi threatened to revoke their diplomatic immunity.

Indian foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said the government wasn't ruling out an investigation if Canada had a reason to make such allegations. "Please share evidence with us. We will look at anything you have to offer," he reiterated at an event in the UK last week.

The foreign minister emphasized that Canada had not shared any evidence with India so far to support its allegation.

Last month the foreign minister hinted at the resumption of visa services, adding that at the time it was not safe for diplomats to issue visas.

“If we see progress there, I would very much like to resume the issue of visas,” Mr Jaishankar had said. “My hope would be that it would be something which should happen very very soon.”

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