Tourists, business travelers in limbo after India halts visas in Canada amid escalating dispute

News Network
September 22, 2023

travel.jpg

Canadian tourists, business travelers and even some former Indian citizens are rushing to change flights and inquire about their trip deposits after India abruptly suspended visa applications in the country amid an escalating diplomatic row.

A day after the Indian government warned its citizens in Canada to “exercise utmost caution” and hinted that their safety is threatened, BLS International — an agency that processes visa requests in Canada — posted an online notice saying services have been “suspended until further notice.”

“This shouldn’t happen for the innocent people,” said Jothy Ilangovan, standing in line outside the BLS office in Toronto. She was there to help her brother, a Canadian citizen who has lived in the country for 33 years, obtain a visa for a Hindu pilgrimage back to India. He had already booked his vacation time from work and feared the trip would be canceled. “We want to go to the temple and pray, that’s it.”

Ties between Canada and India are at their lowest point in decades after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused the Indian government of orchestrating the assassination of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Canadian activist who was pushing for an independent Sikh homeland in the Punjab region. 

India has denied the allegation, calling it “absurd” and hitting back with measures aimed at curbing travel between two nations.

Montreal-based engineering firm SNC-Lavalin Group Inc., which now operates under the brand name of AtkinsRéalis, has limited travel to India for Canadian employees to “essential reasons only” until further notice, the firm’s spokesperson, Laurence Myre Leroux, said in an email. There hasn’t been any impact on operations so far, she added, but the situation is being monitored “closely.”

India’s move means most Canadians won’t be able to travel there if they don’t already have a visa. Travel agents said e-visa applications online were also not being processed for Canadians. And while Canadians who previously held Indian passports are eligible for Overseas Citizen of India cards — which allow visa-free entry — many do not hold them.

“This is going to impact Canada, and its trade and economy, where India has played a big role,” said Unnati Oza, a Toronto-based travel agent. “I used to work with a client who used to go there twice a year for business — to Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai. Where are Canadians going to go after this?”

It’s not just business travel. The visa suspension is also hitting leisure travelers: Canadians made 280,000 tourist arrivals in India last year, according to Indian government data, making it the No. 5 source of such visitors.

“I already have four or five people calling me this morning. They’re due to go in October and November for eight to 10 days of sightseeing. Now, they’re worried because the tours are non-refundable,” said Ottawa-based travel agent Lalit Sharma, who specializes in India. “If they don’t have the visas, they can’t go.”

At the BLS office in Toronto, a sign told visitors that visa services were suspended for “operational reasons.” Most of the people in line on Thursday morning were there to renew their Indian passports, but others were trying to get advice on the visa suspension.

Mithun Ganguly’s prospects were better, having come to the BLS office to renew his passport. A recent arrival to Canada, he said he doesn’t feel unsafe in the country, regardless of the current Indian advisory. 

“Canada is a nice country to stay in, as well as India, so I think we should talk,” he said. “The tensions are not good for either of the countries.” 

Comments

Add new comment

  • Coastaldigest.com reserves the right to delete or block any comments.
  • Coastaldigset.com is not responsible for its readers’ comments.
  • Comments that are abusive, incendiary or irrelevant are strictly prohibited.
  • Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name to avoid reject.
News Network
November 27,2023

tumakuru.jpg

Tumakuru, Nov 27: In a tragic incident a family of five, including three children, died by suicide, which was allegedly triggered by debt and harassment by neighbours in the Sadashivanagar area of Tumakuru city in Karnataka on Sunday. 

The deceased family elder Garib Saab (36) left a poignant death note addressed to his grandmother, detailing the family's struggles and the reasons behind their extreme step.

According to police, the deceased family hailed from Lakkanahalli in Shira taluk of Tumakuru district. The deceased have been identified as Garib Saab (32) his wife Sumayya (30), their daughter Hazira, and sons Mohammed Suban and Mohammed Muneer.

Earlier, Garib wrote a chilling note to his great-grandmother about his plan to die by suicide. He wrote about his debt and also mentioned that his neighbours were harassing his family. He demanded that the Home Minister should punish them according to the law. "We are losing our lives to the harassment of the neighbours," he wrote in the note.

Garib Saab has written the names of family members and wrote that everything is on the mobile phone, police said.

Tumakur SP Ashok KV said, "We got information that five people committed suicide in the same house. After a few minutes, we reached the place. Two bodies were found hanging. The bodies of three children were found on the bed. The deceased persons were from Lakkanahalli of Shira taluk. Garib Saab wrote a death note before he died. He also sent a video message to his relatives. We will check what information it contains. We will take action based on the video and the complaint."

Saab stayed at Tumakuru to educate his children. The deceased have blamed mental harassment by Kalandar, who stays below their house in a video purportedly recorded by them.

“We were harassed by neighbours led by Kalandar. Those responsible for this suicide should get their due. Don’t conduct post-mortem on our bodies,” the video said. 

Comments

Add new comment

  • Coastaldigest.com reserves the right to delete or block any comments.
  • Coastaldigset.com is not responsible for its readers’ comments.
  • Comments that are abusive, incendiary or irrelevant are strictly prohibited.
  • Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name to avoid reject.
News Network
November 23,2023

gaza.jpg

Israel says there will be no halt to the fighting in the Gaza Strip, as it continues to bombard the besieged enclave despite agreeing to a four-day truce with the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas.

An unnamed Israeli official told AFP early on Thursday that the temporary ceasefire and the planned release of prisoners have been delayed and will not come into effect until Friday at the earliest.

The official’s comments came after Tzachi Hanegbi, an adviser to Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said none of the prisoners held by Hamas in Gaza would be freed before Friday.

“The release will begin according to the original agreement between the parties, and not before Friday,” he said in a statement on Wednesday night, adding that talks on the deal were continuing.

Hanegbi gave no reason for the delay, and it was not clear when Israel would begin a four-day pause in its attacks on Gaza, which was expected to take effect at 10 a.m. local time Thursday.

Early on Wednesday, Hamas announced a four-day truce with Israel in the Gaza Strip that will see the cessation of Israeli assaults on the Gaza Strip.

Hamas said in a statement that the deal, mediated by Qatar and Egypt, will allow the entry of hundreds of humanitarian, medical and fuel aid trucks to Gaza.

The deal will also see the release of 50 Israeli war prisoners in exchange for the release of 150 Palestinian women and children from the occupying entity’s jails.

Meanwhile, Israel has continued to attack Gaza in the hours after an agreement was reached between the two sides for a truce, striking various parts across the blockaded territory and leaving many injured.

Local sources reported that Israeli airstrikes targeted a house in Rafah in the south of the Gaza Strip, wounding a number of people, according to Palestine’s official WAFA news agency.

Israeli warplanes also bombed the town of al-Fokhari, east of the southern city of Khan Yunis.

The Israeli military also pounded Beit Lahia town in the north of the Gaza Strip, as well as Beit Hanoun and the Jabalia refugee camp, leaving dozens of citizens dead or injured.

Israel waged the war on Gaza on October 7 after Hamas carried out a surprise attack, dubbed Operation Al-Aqsa Storm, into the occupied territories in response to the occupying regime’s intensified crimes against the Palestinian people.

According to the Gaza-based health ministry, at least 14,500 Palestinians have been killed in the strikes, most of them women and children, and injured around 35,000 others.

Tel Aviv has also imposed a “complete siege” on Gaza, cutting off fuel, electricity, food and water to the more than two million Palestinians living there. 

Comments

Add new comment

  • Coastaldigest.com reserves the right to delete or block any comments.
  • Coastaldigset.com is not responsible for its readers’ comments.
  • Comments that are abusive, incendiary or irrelevant are strictly prohibited.
  • Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name to avoid reject.
News Network
November 21,2023

The Jubail unit of Hidayah Foundation and Epicentre Research and Collaboration are jointly organising HCL Hidayah Cricket League on November 22, 23 and 24 at Al Falah Ground Jubail.

cricket1.jpg

cricket.jpg

Comments

Add new comment

  • Coastaldigest.com reserves the right to delete or block any comments.
  • Coastaldigset.com is not responsible for its readers’ comments.
  • Comments that are abusive, incendiary or irrelevant are strictly prohibited.
  • Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name to avoid reject.