Canada ‘temporarily’ adjusts diplomatic staff in India after social media threats

News Network
September 21, 2023

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New Delhi, Sept 21: Canada's high commission in India said on Thursday that it has decided to temporarily "adjust" staff presence in the country after some diplomats received threats on social media platforms, adding to spiralling tensions between the two countries.

The statement from the high commission came soon after an Indian company published a notice that it was suspending visa services for Canadian citizens following a notice from the Indian mission. It then withdrew it minutes later before re-publishing it again.

BLS International, an Indian company offering visa facilities, said on Wednesday the notice from the Indian mission in Canada cited "operational reasons" for suspension of visa services "till further notice".

Spokespersons for the Canadian high commission and the Indian foreign ministry did not respond to queries on the two developments.

Tensions between the two countries escalated earlier this week when Canada said that it was "actively pursuing credible allegations" linking Indian government agents to the murder of a Sikh separatist leader in British Columbia in June.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government categorically rejected Canada's suspicions that Indian agents had links to the alleged murder.

With both nations expelling a diplomat each, analysts said relations between the two countries have touched the lowest point.

"In light of the current environment where tensions have heightened, we are taking action to ensure the safety of our diplomats," the Canadian high commission said in a statement.

"With some diplomats having received threats on various social media platforms, Global Affairs Canada is assessing its staff complement in India," it said, referring to the Canadian government department which manages Ottawa's diplomatic and consular relations.

"As a result, and out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to temporarily adjust staff presence in India," it said, without elaborating on what it meant by adjusting staff presence.

"In the context of respect for obligations under the Vienna conventions, we expect India to provide for the security of our accredited diplomats and consular officers in India, just as we are for theirs here."

After the tit-for-tat expulsions of senior diplomats, the two countries issued tit-for-tat travel advisories on Tuesday and Wednesday, with India urging its nationals in Canada, especially students, to exercise "utmost caution".

THREAT TO TRADE TIES

The tensions were sparked on Monday after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Ottawa was investigating "credible allegations" about the potential involvement of Indian government agents in the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia in June.

Canadian officials have so far declined to say why they believe India could be linked to Nijjar's murder.

New Delhi has also not provided evidence or details of specific incidents leading to its travel advisory that refers to "growing anti-India activities and politically condoned hate crimes and criminal violence in Canada".

Canada is a safe country, its public safety minister Dominic LeBlanc said hours after India's advisory.

Canada has the largest population of Sikhs outside the Indian state of Punjab, with about 770,000 people reporting Sikhism as their religion in the 2021 census.

Some Indian analysts say Ottawa does not curb Sikh protesters as they are a politically influential group.

The spat is also threatening trade ties, with talks on a proposed trade deal frozen last week.

Canada is India's 17th largest foreign investor, pouring in more than $3.6 billion since 2000, while Canadian portfolio investors have invested billions of dollars in Indian stock and debt markets.

Since 2018, India has been the largest source country for international students in Canada.

In 2022, their number rose 47% to nearly 320,000, accounting for about 40% of total overseas students, the Canadian Bureau of International Education says, which also helps universities and colleges provide a subsidised education to domestic students.

Industry estimates show the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between Canada and India could boost two-way trade by as much as $6.5 billion, yielding a GDP gain of $3.8 billion to $5.9 billion for Canada by 2035.
 

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News Network
July 7,2024

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Henley & Partners Passport Index revealed India's passport strength improved by three position in 2024. The Indian passport is currently ranked 80th place as it has weakened during the past ten years of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rule. It has dropped from 76th position to 80th. 

The Index is based on exclusive International Air Transport Authority (Iata) data. In addition, publicly available and reliable online sources were also used to cross-check each passport against all 227 possible travel destinations.

List of countries Indian nationals can visit visa-free or get visa-on-arrival in 2024:

Africa: Angola, Burundi, Cape Verde islands, Comoro Islands, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Zimbabwe

Asia: Bhutan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Laos, Macao (SAR China), Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines (valid or unexpired American, Japanese, Australian, Canadian, Schengen, Singapore or UK visa, or permanent residence permit from these states) Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor-Leste

Americas: Bolivia, El Salvador

Caribbean: Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago

Oceania: Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Niue, Palau Islands, Samoa, Tuvalu, Vanuatu

Middle East: Jordan, Oman, Qatar

NOTE for UAE: As of December 6, 2023, Indian nationals with a normal passport valid for a minimum of six months from the arrival date, holding a visit visa or green card issued by the US which is valid for a minimum of six months or a UK or EU residence ID which is valid for a minimum of six months, can obtain a visa on arrival for a maximum stay of 14 days for a charge of Dh191 (subject to change). They can apply to extend their stay for an additional 14 days for Dh250 (subject to change) through Amer offices in Dubai.

Indian nationals holding an extension letter for US residency are not eligible for a visa on arrival. (According to a note published on Emirates airline website).

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coastaldigest.com news network
June 28,2024

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At least 13 people were killed, while a few others were critically injured after a mini-bus crashed into a stationary truck in Byadagi Taluk in Karnataka's Haveri district early Friday, June 28.

The deceased include four men including driver, seven women, a child, and girl with physical disability. Bodies were shifted to the district hospital.

'108' staff rescued three persons stuck in the vehicle, and the injured are being treated at the district hospital.

The deceased were from Emmehatti village near Bhadravati in Shivamogga district, as per the sources. 

The accident on the national highway took place while they were returning after visiting Mayammadevi Temple at Chincholi and Yallammanagudda at Savadatti in Belagavi district.

Superintendent of Police Anshukumar and other officials visited the spot.

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News Network
June 28,2024

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A day after a Vokkaliga seer publicly urged Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to step down in favour of his deputy D K Shivakumar, a prominent seer from the dominant Veerashaiva-Lingayat community on Friday called for ministers from his community to be considered if there is a change in the CM post.

Channasiddharam Swamiji of Srishail Peetham stated that if the Congress decides to change the state chief minister or create additional deputy chief minister positions, preference should be given to legislators from the Veerashaiva-Lingayat community.

Speaking to reporters at Yadur village in Chikkodi taluk, the seer emphasized that people from the Veerashaiva-Lingayat community have voted for Congress in large numbers.

"If the Congress wants to change the chief minister or create more deputy chief minister posts, community members like M B Patil, Ishwar Khandre, S S Mallikarjun, and veteran Shamnur Shivashankarappa should be considered. During the government formation, Veerashaiva-Lingayat votes were decisive. Therefore, Veerashaiva-Lingayat ministers should be given priority and their experience utilized. I urge that they be given an opportunity," he said.

Talks in this regard have been held with Kashi, Ujjani, and other seers of Panchapeethas, and there is an understanding about the chief minister's post within the Congress. The grand old party should walk the talk, he added.

On Thursday, Vishwa Vokkaliga Mahasamastana Math seer Kumara Chandrashekaranatha Swamiji had raised the pitch for Shivakumar as CM during the Kempegowda Jayanti event, which commemorates the birth anniversary of Bengaluru's founder, in the presence of both Siddaramaiah and the deputy chief minister on the dais.

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