Canada has deeply regretted visa row, says Krishna

Bangalore, May 28 (Calcutta Tube) External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna Friday said Canada has issued a statement ‘deeply regretting’ the language used by its officials while rejecting visas of Indian defence and security agency officers.

‘We have received a copy of statement made by Canada’s Immigration Minister Jason Kenney. Kenney has written that Canada has the highest regard for India, Indian institutions and processes,’ Krishna said.

‘They have deeply regretted that the letter drafted by the public official to routine visa rejections casts aspersion on the legitimate duties carried by the Indian defence and security agencies which operate under democratic processes and rule of law,’ he added.

Over the past two years, Canada rejected visas of some senior serving and retired Indian Army and intelligence officials with adverse comments, which has sparked outrage in India.

‘The language of inaccurate impression in no way reflects position or policy of the government of Canada, so I think they have realised the mistake they have made. I think we should consider the chapter closed,’ he added.

Last week, the Canadian high commission here refused visa to Fateh Singh Pandher, a retired Border Security Force constable, on grounds that he was associated with a ‘notoriously violent force’.

Lt. Gen. (retd) A.S. Bahia, a decorated Indian Army officer, was denied visa in May on grounds that he had served in a ‘sensitive location’ of Jammu and Kashmir.

In yet another case, two brigadiers were denied visas in 2008 and another in 2009.

S.S. Sidhu, a retired Intelligence Bureau (IB) officer, was denied visa March 26, with the high commission in New Delhi contending that he belonged to the ‘inadmissible’ category of persons.

In the rejection letter, the Canadian high commission said Sidhu could not be given visa as he had served in an organisation like IB and, therefore, he could ‘engage in an act of espionage or subversion’ or ‘violence that would or might endanger the lives or safety of persons in Canada’.

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