New Delhi: India is outraged and has alleged discrimination after Canada refused visas to several Indian officers citing grounds ranging from human rights violation to terrorism. The latest is the case of an Intelligence Bureau (IB) officer being denied a visa.
"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," Foreign Secretary, Nirupama Rao has said.
The Canadian High Commission has done this before. In March, a retired official, SS Sidhu, who wanted to visit his son and had been to Canada twice before, was refused visa. He was told by the Canadian High Commission that he was a threat to nationals there and his job was such that Canada couldn't afford the risk.
The latest incident, government sources told PTI, involved an Intelligence Bureau officer who was to visit Canada ahead of the trip of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the later part of June for the G-20 summit.
The officer was denied a visa reportedly on the ground that he was associated with a spy agency and was 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 and took up the matter with him, they said.
The Canadian authorities were told that India considers this a "discriminatory" attitude towards the Indian security agencies and also told firmly that Canadian nationals working in war-ravaged Afghanistan, may also face similar problems if such discrimination did not come to an end, the sources said.
The incident also 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.
Others 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)