Chandigarh: As India on Thursday suspended visa services in Canada citing “operational reasons”, Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Badal on Thursday said, “this is set to create great hurdles, uncertainty and anxiety for Punjabis”.
Saying he was deeply concerned over indefinite suspension of visa services for Canadian nationals to India, Badal said “it affects lakhs of Punjabis residing as overseas nationals of Indian origin or as students in that country”.
“This is set to create great hurdles, uncertainty and anxiety for Punjabis, especially to members of the most patriotic community of the Sikhs who have not only made unparalleled sacrifices for the freedom of the country but also for fighting off foreign aggression in borders.
“The visa facility hurdles will particularly hit our youth who go to Canada in thousands as students every year and who are now residing there. I have been flooded with calls and messages from Punjabis in Canada and their families and relatives back home, seeking the Akali Dal’s intervention to ensure safe and smooth travel to their homeland.”
Realising the gravity of the situation, the Shiromani Akali Dal urged the two countries’ governments to find a solution to the matter at the earliest possible.
However, private agency, BLS, hired for initial scrutiny of visa applications of Canadians, posted a note on its website, saying, “Due to operational reasons, with effect from 21 September 2023, Indian visa services have been suspended till further notice. Please keep checking the BLS website for further updates.”
The diplomatic relationship between India and Canada soured over the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar.