India suspends visa services in Canada as rift widens over killing of Canadian citizen

Justin Trudeau (left) walks past Indian PM Narendra Modi during the G20 Summit earlier this month. Credit: AP

India's visa processing center in Canada has suspended services after the Canadian prime minister said India may have been involved in the murder of a Canadian citizen.

Justin Trudeau told parliament on Monday there were “credible allegations” of Indian involvement in the assassination of Sikh independence activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

Nijjar, who had been wanted by India for years, was gunned down in June outside the temple he led.

On Tuesday, Canada expelled an Indian diplomat, and India followed by expelling a Canadian diplomat.

Indian officials called the allegations being investigated in Canada absurd and an attempt to shift attention from the presence of Nijjar and other wanted suspects in Canada.

"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.

On Wednesday, the ministry issued an updated travel advisory urging its citizens traveling in Canada and especially those studying in the North American country to be cautious because of “growing anti-India activities and politically condoned hate-crimes.”

Members of Pakistan's Sikh community hold a protest against the killing of Nijjar on Wednesday. Credit: AP

Indians should also avoid going to venues in Canada where “threats have particularly targeted Indian diplomats and sections of the Indian community who oppose anti-India agenda,” the ministry said.

Nijjar was working to organise an unofficial referendum among the Sikh diaspora on independence from India at the time of his killing.

He had denied India's accusation that he was a terrorist.

Demands for an independent Sikh homeland, known as Khalistan, started as an insurgency in India’s Punjab state in the 1970s.

The insurgency was crushed in an Indian government crackdown that killed thousands.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know…