Updated Sep 21, 2023 - World

India-Canada diplomatic row escalates after Trudeau's assassination claim

Justin Trudeau speaks at a U.N. Security Council meeting on September 20. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

India suspended visa services for Canadian nationals on Thursday, marking a sharp escalation in the diplomatic crisis between the two countries.

Driving the news: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier this week alleged that agents of the Indian government may have been involved in the June killing of Sikh separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Canadian citizen, on Canadian soil.

State of play: BLS International, the third party that processes visa applications for India in Canada, announced on its website this week that it would suspend its visa services starting Sept. 21 until further notice due to "operational reasons."

  • India issued an advisory Wednesday warning Indians considering travel to Canada to "exercise utmost caution" due to "growing anti-India activities and politically-condoned hate crimes and criminal violence in Canada."
  • Canada's Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc dismissed the news of the travel advisory, telling reporters, "Canada is a safe country," the New York Times reported.

Trudeau spoke to reporters on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly Thursday, but sidestepped questions about whether Canada would retaliate for India's visa suspension and how extensive the evidence Canada had about its claim is.

  • "We call upon the government of India to take seriously this matter and to work with us to shed full transparency and ensure accountability and justice in this matter," Trudeau said.
  • "We are a country of the rule of law. We are going to continue to do the work necessary to keep Canadians safe, to uphold our values and the international-rules-based order," he added.

Zoom out: Earlier this week India and Canada engaged in a tit-for-tat expulsion of diplomats.

  • The Canadian Prime Minister's office did not immediately provide comment in response to a request from Axios on Thursday.

Editor's note: This story was updated with comments from Trudeau.

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