The agency that processes visa requests for India in Canada, the BLS Indian Visa Application Center, announced that visa applications were suspended indefinitely beginning Thursday. While no reason was given, it was seemingly a decision made after Trudeau addressed the Canadian Parliament to say that there were “credible allegations” that India was involved in the shooting death of Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June.
“We call on the government of India to work with us to take seriously these allegations and to allow justice to follow its course,” Trudeau said at a Thursday news conference at the Canadian Permanent Mission in New York. “As I said on Monday, there are credible reasons to believe that agents of the government of India were involved in killing a Canadian on Canadian soil. That is something of utmost and foundational importance in a country rule of law.”
Nijjar, 45, was killed in the parking lot of the Sikh temple where he presided as president in Surrey, Canada. At the time, he was the face of a referendum to establish a Sikh homeland called Khalistan. It had the backing of Sikhs for Justice and was rallying support from the Sikh diaspora but is banned in India. Nijjar suffered multiple gunshot wounds and died there. Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, the spokesman for Sikhs for Justice, said Nijjar had been warned by Canadian intelligence that his life was at risk in the days leading up to his murder.
Trudeau did not answer questions regarding the evidence against India but promised that he is committed to “getting to the truth of this matter.” He also expressed his hope that the world would come to take the investigation seriously. The prime minister would not say whether Canada might implement any retaliatory measures against India. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a “direct and frank conversation” with Trudeau in which Trudeau said he shared his concerns “in no uncertain terms.”
“I can assure everyone that Canada is a safe country,” Trudeau added. “I continue to call for calm, for Canadians to remain true to who we are — open, respectful, grounded in respect and trust in our institutions and our law enforcement and justice systems.”
This was the second murder in two years of a high-profile member of the Sikh community in Canada. In July of last year, Ripudaman Singh Malik, 75, was shot to death in his car in what police at the time referred to as a targeted attack. Malik had been previously acquitted of murder and conspiracy in the case of the two 1985 Air India bombings that killed 331 people.