In a series of flip-flops, a private agency hired by India to carry out initial scrutiny of visa applications of Canadians on Thursday put out a note on its website on suspension of visa services due to "operational reasons", withdrew it within hours and then again put it back online.
The agency, BLS International, also informed the stock exchanges that it had suspended India visa services in Canada with immediate effect.
The note put on Canada page of the firm's website, which was withdrawn and restored later, read, "Important notice from Indian mission. Due to operational reasons, with effect from September 21, 2023, Indian visa services have been suspended till further notice. Please keep checking BLS website for further updates."
BLS International Services Limited, a listed company, also said in its stock exchange filing that the impact of this move is negligible on its financials as "the Canadian visa issuance business contributes less than two per cent to BLS Internationals' total annual revenue".
India and Canada are embroiled in a diplomatic row over the killing of a Khalistani separatist leader The row erupted following Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's allegations of a "potential" involvement of Indian agents in the killing of a Khalistani separatist in Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June.
India on Tuesday rejected the allegations as "absurd" and "motivated" and expelled a senior Canadian diplomat in a tit-for-tat move to Ottawa's expulsion of an Indian official over the case.
In reflection of hardening of its position, India on Wednesday advised all its nationals living in Canada and those contemplating travelling there to exercise "utmost caution" in view of growing anti-India activities and "politically-condoned" hate crimes as well as "criminal violence" in that country.
The India-Canada ties were reeling under some strain for the last few months in view of increasing activities of the pro-Khalistani elements in the North American country. India believes the Trudeau government is not addressing its genuine concerns.