The Home Ministry has given Canada a one week to respond & take corrective action because Canadian High Commission was repeatedly denying visa to Indian officers.
Sources say the Ministry of Home affairs has not ruled out retaliatory action. This comes after the latest incident of a senior Information Bureau (IB) official being refused a visa.
India, the sources say, is miffed at Canada for denying visa on spurious and insulting grounds.
The Home Ministry has also questioned the “soft” attitude of the External Affairs Ministry (MEA). Its contention, say the sources, is that the MEA knew the grounds on which visas were denied to serving Army officers and yet did not do anything beyond routine calls and letters.
The Home Ministry had earlier written a letter to the MEA voicing its concerns on the issue, sources had said.
The MEA, on its part, says it is taking the matter seriously. “We take this matter very, very seriously, that’s what I want to say. Of course, the Canadian Foreign Minister has in a public statement stated that Canada has the highest regard for India’s democratic institutions and processes and also respect for India’s armed forces and related institutions. But let me once again say we did take up the matter, we expressed serious concern and we continue to take this matter very seriously,” Foreign Secretary, Nirupama Rao has said.
Canada has refused visas to several Indian officers citing grounds ranging from human rights violation to terrorism. In March, a retired official, SS Sidhu, who wanted to visit his son and had been to Canada twice before, was refused visa. He was told by the Canadian High Commission that he was a threat to nationals there and his job was such that Canada couldn’t afford the risk.
The latest incident also comes close on the heels of the Canadian mission triggering a row by refusing visa to a retired BSF constable citing his association with a “notoriously violent” force which indulges in “systematic attack” and “systematic torture” of suspected criminals.
Others turned away earlier include three serving Army officers. There have been more such instances in the last few years: Retired Lt Gen and former DG of Military Operations, A S Bahia was denied visa by Canada in 2008. Retired Lt Gen O P Nandrajog and a retired BSF head constable Fateh Singh Pandher were also denied visa.
Canada says it can deny visas to those who worked for organizations guilty of human rights violations.
PTI adds: The latest incident, government sources said, involved an Intelligence Bureau officer who was to visit Canada ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s trip in late June for the G-20 summit.
The officer was denied a visa reportedly on the ground that he was associated with a spy agency and was issued an emergency certificate instead.
An angry Home Ministry then wrote to the MEA, which in turn summoned the Canadian High Commissioner and took up the matter with him, sources said.
The Canadian authorities were told that India considers this a “discriminatory” attitude towards the Indian security agencies and also that Canadian nationals working in war-ravaged Afghanistan, may also face similar problems if such discrimination did not come to an end, the sources said. (With PTI inputs)