The India-Canada row has continued escalating, with India having suspended visa services for all Canadian nationals on Thursday.
A statement said the temporary move is the result of “security threats” against Indian consuls in India, while denouncing Canada as a terrorist “safe haven”.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had on Monday alleged that Indian intelligence assassinated Sikh separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar at a temple outside Vancouver in June. New Delhi angrily rejected the accusation as “absurd”.
Canada’s Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc has emphasized that “Canada is a safe country” after India initially issued a travel advisory telling the tens of thousands of Indians inside Canada to exercise caution.
According to the full Indian government statement:
“There have been threats made to our high commission [embassy] and consulates in Canada,” a foreign affairs ministry spokesman in Delhi said. “This has disrupted their normal functioning. Accordingly [they] are temporarily unable to process visa applications.”
He said: “India is looking for parity in rank and diplomatic strength between the diplomatic missions of the two countries. This is being sought because of Canadian diplomatic interference in our internal affairs.”
Hours earlier Canada had announced it was reducing its personnel in India, saying some diplomats had received threats on social media.
“In light of the current environment where tensions have heightened, we are taking action to ensure the safety of our diplomats,” a statement said.
India has further charged that that Canadian government is trying to “shift the focus from Khalistani terrorists and extremists” who were given shelter there.
The slain Sikh leader Nijjar had long been a “wanted terrorist” – and has complained these terror and separatist activities have been enabled on Canadian soil.
Trudeau at the G20 summit in India earlier this month tried to rally Western allies to pile the pressure on PM Modi, but reportedly to no avail, as many countries including the US are wary of harming relations with India and its large economy.