New Delhi: India is outraged and has alleged discrimination after Canada has refused visas to several Indian officers citing grounds ranging from human rights violation to terrorism.
"We take this matter very very seriously, that's what I want to say. Of course, the Canadian Foreign Minister has in a public statement stated that Canada has the highest regard for India's democratic institutions and processes and also respect for India's armed forces and related institutions. But let me once again say we did take up the matter, we expressed serious concern and we continue to take this matter very seriously," Nirupama Rao, Foreign Secretary.
For the second time in two weeks the Canadian High Commission has refused a visa to an Indian officer. An Intelligence Bureau officer, who retired at the Joint Director rank, was denied a visa in March, the officer, SS Sidhu, wanted to visit his son and has been to Canada twice before.
However, he was told by the Canadian High Commission that he is a threat to nationals there and his job was such that Canada couldn't afford to risk it.
The latest incident, said highly-placed government sources, involved an Intelligence Bureau officer who was to visit Canada ahead of the trip of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in later part of June for the G-20 summit.
The officer was denied a visa reportedly on the ground of his association with a spy agency and issued an emergency certificate instead, prompting the Home Ministry to write a letter to the External Affairs Ministry voicing its concerns on the issue, the sources said.
The MEA in turn summoned the Canadian High Commissioner to India and took up the matter with him, they said.
The incident comes close on the heels of the Canadian mission triggering a row by refusing visa to a retired BSF constable citing his association with a "notoriously violent" force which indulges in "systematic attack" and "systematic torture" of suspected criminals.
The Canadian authorities were conveyed about the "discriminatory" attitude towards the Indian security agencies and told firmly that its nationals, working in war-ravaged Afghanistan, may also face similar problems if such discrimination did not come to an end, the sources said.
Those turned away earlier include three serving army officers. There have been such instances in the last few years as well:
Retired Lt Gen and former DG of Military Operations, A S Bahia was denied visa by Canada in 2008.
Retired Lt Gen O P Nandrajog and a retired BSF head constable Fateh Singh Pandher were also denied visa.
Canada says it can deny visas to those who worked for organizations guilty of human rights violations. (With PTI inputs)