File picture of Canadian Emergency Preparedness Minister Harjit Sajjan during a news conference in Brussels, Belgium, 17 March 2023. EFE/EPA/OLIVIER HOSLET

India announces resumption of visas for Canadian citizens

Toronto, Canada, Oct 25 (EFE).- India announced Wednesday that it will resume issuing visas to Canadians, which it suspended in September after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau implicated New Delhi authorities in the assassination of a Sikh leader on Canadian soil.

The move, announced in a statement by the Indian Embassy in Ottawa, is the first sign of détente between the two countries and comes days after New Delhi stripped 41 Canadian diplomats of immunity from prosecution, forcing their departure from India.

Canadian Emergencies Minister Harjit Sajjan, who is of Sikh origin, welcomed the decision but also said in statements to the media that India should not have suspended the issuance of visas.

“It would have been nice if they didn’t take it in the first place,” said Sajjan, who added that Canada continues to demand that India cooperate in the investigation of the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Sikh community leader of Indian origin who became a Canadian citizen in 2007.

“There was a Canadian that’s killed on Canadian soil, and we’ve been asking for greater co-operation with the investigation,” the Canadian minister said.

Singh Nijjar, who was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in western Canada in June this year, had been charged with terrorism by Indian authorities for advocating for the creation of a separate country, Khalistan, for the Sikh minority in the state of Punjab.

In September, Trudeau implicated New Delhi in the murder and asked Indian authorities to cooperate in investigating the crime. But India responded by suspending visas and withdrawing immunity for Canadian diplomats.

The suspension of visas had created serious problems for Canadians who wanted to travel to India. About 1.4 million people of Indian origin live in Canada.

The Canada-India Business Council, which represents Canadian companies in India, welcomed the resumption of visa issuance.

“It is also a positive sign that both governments have expressed their support for bilateral business and investments amidst these unusual times,” the organization said in a statement.

The group estimated the number of Canadian companies in India at 600, and Canadian direct investment in India at 3.6 billion Canadian dollars (2.61 billion US dollars) by 2022. EFE