India restores e-visa services for Canadian nationals, easing diplomatic row between the 2 countries

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Published November 22, 2023 at 7:59 am

Brampton air india sikh
Air India planes are parked at Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, India, Monday, Aug. 30, 2021. Canada's transport minister and the RCMP say an investigation is underway into what they call "threats" against Air India, after an online video warned people not to fly on the airline on Nov. 19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Manish Swarup

India restored electronic visa services for Canadian nationals, an Indian foreign ministry official said Wednesday, two months after Canada alleged the South Asian nation was involved in the assassination of a Sikh separatist in Canada.

The electronic visa was back in order on Wednesday, the official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to reporters.

The move could ease tensions between the two countries that swapped accusations and expelled each other’s diplomats with India introducing a visa ban on Canadian nationals.

A diplomatic spat erupted between the two countries after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in September that there were “credible allegations” of Indian involvement in the killing of Canadian citizen Hardeep Singh Nijjar in suburban Vancouver in western Canada.

Nijjar, a 45-year-old Sikh activist and plumber, was killed by masked gunmen in June in Surrey, outside Vancouver.

For years, India had said that Nijjar, a Canadian citizen born in India, had links to terrorism, an allegation he denied but dismissed the Canadian allegation of its involvement in his killing as “ absurd.”

New Delhi’s worries about Sikh separatist groups in Canada have long strained the relationship between the two countries, despite maintaining strong defense and trade ties. India had previously accused Canada of harboring separatists and “terrorists.”

The allegation brought the discord to the forefront with Canada recalling 41 of its 62 diplomats in India after New Delhi warned it would strip their diplomatic immunity — something Canadian officials characterized as a violation of the Geneva Convention.

Last month, India eased the ban and resumed services for entry, business, medical and conference visas for Canadian nationals.

Krutika Pathi, The Associated Press

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