Trudeau calls out India’s move against Canadian diplomats as Brampton residents caught in political rift

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Published October 20, 2023 at 1:18 pm

India Canada tensions travel visa Brampton
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau takes part in a bilateral meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the G20 Summit in New Delhi, India, on Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023. The suspension of Indian visa services for Canadians this week has prompted uncertainty among many who had hoped to travel to India in the near future. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called out India’s decision to oust Canadian diplomats as “contrary to international law” as Brampton residents looking to travel to India are dealing with long lines and uncertainty as the tensions between the two countries grew again this week.

Trudeau was in Brampton on Friday to announce $114 million in funding to tackle the housing crisis in the city but spoke with reporters about Canada’s removal of most of its diplomatic presence from India after New Delhi threatened to strip diplomatic immunities from them and their families.

Trudeau called India’s decision to “unilaterally” revoke diplomatic immunity “a violation of the Vienna Convention governing diplomacy.”

“This is them choosing to contravene a very fundamental principle of international law and diplomacy,” Trudeau said in Brampton.

“It is something that all countries in the world should be very worried about.”

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly called the move a precedent-setting threat, adding Canada chose to relocate 41 of its diplomats to outside India along with their 42 dependants. There are 21 Canadian diplomats remaining in India.

The row stems from allegations made public by Trudeau last month that India may have been involved in the killing of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who was gunned down in June outside a Sikh cultural centre in Surrey, B.C.

The allegation led India to halt all visa services for Canadian citizens, and has left many travellers and agencies in Brampton scrambling to apply for an Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) card if they plan to travel to India.

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, many Brampton residents faced long lines and wait times at passport offices. Now users on social media have been sharing their experiences waiting in long lines to apply for an OCI card since the allegations were made public, with some lining up the night before at the Brampton office in the “never-ending” queue.

@dreamersabroad My experience to apply OCI (with an appointment) after Govt of India suspended visa applications for Canadian passport holders few days ago. #brampton #indian #abroad #indiansabroad #indiansincanada #oci #visa #indiacanada #experience #bramptonontario #bls #ontario #travelling #bls ♬ original sound – DreamersAbroad

The rift also led Brampton City Council to call on police and Ottawa to ensure places of worship are kept safe, with Coun. Gurpartap Singh Toor saying the prime minister’s statement “brings validation to the decades of Canadian voices that have always spoken about the presence of foreign interference and intelligence reporting by the government of India.”

Trudeau said Friday that India’s actions toward Canadian diplomats “has far-reaching consequences for the diplomatic world.”

“It also has very real impacts on the millions of people who travel back and forth between India, as students and family members.”

Officials said the move would slow down the processing of immigration applications and Canada has issued a travel advisory for regions of India where it says it’s been forced to reduce consular staffing.

With files from the Canadian Press

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