Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reiterated Thursday that Canada is not looking to provoke or cause problems after India halted all visa services for citizens of Canada and told it to reduce its diplomatic staffing on as a rift widened between the countries after the prime minister said India may have been involved in the killing of a Canadian citizen.
Ties between Ottawa and New Delhi, key strategic partners in security and trade, have plunged to their lowest point in years after Trudeau this week said there were “credible allegations” of Indian involvement in the assassination of a Sikh separatist leader on its soil.
Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a 45-year-old Canadian citizen who had been wanted by India for years, was gunned down in June outside the temple he led in Surrey, outside Vancouver.
“We are not looking to provoke or cause problems but we are unequivocal around the importance of the rule of law and unequivocal about the importance of protecting Canadians and standing up for our values,” Trudeau said in New York, on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.
The bombshell allegation from Trudeau on Monday set off a diplomatic tit-for-tat as each country expelled a diplomat. India denied the claim and called it absurd.
“Important notice from Indian Mission: Due to operational reasons, with effect from 21 Sept. Indian visa services have been suspended till further notice,” the BLS Indian Visa Application Center in Canada said. It gave no further details. BLS is the agency that processes visa requests for India.