Canada suspends visa and consular services in Chandigarh, Mumbai, and Bengaluru and removes 41 ambassadors from India.
Canada has now stopped providing visa and consular services at its consulates in Chandigarh, Mumbai, and Bengaluru, in addition to removing 41 diplomats from India. The services will only be offered at Delhi’s Canadian High Commission.
“India has formally conveyed its plan to unethically remove diplomatic immunities for all but 21 Canadian diplomats and dependents in Delhi by October 20,” said Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly. announcing that her country had removed 41 diplomats and their 42 family members from India due to the ongoing dispute between the two nations. This implies that on a date of their choosing, immunity might have been revoked for 41 Canadian ambassadors and their 42 dependents. And doing so would jeopardize their personal security.
Joly confirmed the ambassadors’ departure from India and stated that Canada “facilitated their safe departure.” “India’s decision will impact the levels of services to consulates in both countries,” the spokeswoman continued. Regretfully, we must temporarily suspend all in-person services at our consulates in Bangalore, Mumbai, and Chandigarh.”
“Canadians can still visit our High Commission in Delhi if they require consular assistance. Additionally, you can still do that over the phone and via email in person,” she continued. This comes after India demanded diplomatic parity with Canada in response to the two countries’ ongoing diplomatic spat, which implied a reduction in the number of Canadian diplomats stationed in India.
With Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s claims of the “potential” participation of Indian operatives in the June 18 murder of Khalistani extremist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia, tensions between the two nations erupted last month. In 2020, India classified Nijjar as a terrorist. India dismissed the claims as “motivated” and “absurd”.
Last month, in Washington, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar told journalists that while the governments of India and Canada would need to discuss and figure out a way to work things out, the bigger problem of the Canadian government’s “permissiveness” of terrorism, extremism, and violence still needed to be addressed.
The most recent development would result in a notable delay in Indian visa applications for Canada, many of which are from students from India seeking study permits at different Canadian universities. The organization in charge of processing visas, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), said that it is cutting its staff in India from 27 to five. India ranked first among overseas students, temporary foreign workers, and permanent residents in Canada in 2022.
According to the IRCC, “Indian citizens would face delays in overall processing times, responses to enquiries, and getting visas or their passports back due to the decrease in Canadian diplomatic employees in India. It will continue to accept and handle applications from India despite having fewer employees, however processing times may increase.
India requested last month that Canada reduce the number of diplomats stationed there, claiming that both countries’ diplomatic presences should be equal in terms of strength and status. There are more Canadian diplomats stationed in India than there are in New Delhi, Canada. About 20 Indian diplomats are stationed in Canada, compared to roughly 60 Canadian diplomats, which is three times the number of Indian diplomats.
Previously, the Ministry of External Affairs has called for a reduction in the number of Canadian diplomats in India, noting their ongoing “interference” in New Delhi’s “internal matters” and asserting that India’s goal is reaching “parity” in terms of diplomatic presence. “We have sought parity in our respective diplomatic presence,” MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said in an interview with reporters, “given the much higher presence of diplomats or diplomatic presence here…and their continued interference in our internal matters.” Negotiations are still going on about how to do this.
“Given that Canadian diplomatic presence is higher, we would assume that there would be a reduction,” he said. When questioned about whether the Canadian High Commission in India would issue fewer visas as a result of the country’s diplomat shortage, Bagchi responded, “It’s up to the Canadian side, with whom they chose to staff the High Commission; our worries are about making sure that there is equal representation of diplomats.”
In the meanwhile, the Canadian government has guaranteed that the IRCC employees stationed in India will carry out the regular tasks required in the nation. The five IRCC employees who are still in India, according to reports, will concentrate on tasks that call for their presence there, like expedited processing, obtaining visas, risk assessment, and overseeing key partners.