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India takes Vienna convention very seriously, expects same from Canada: MEA
New Delhi: On the reports of threats to Canadian diplomats in India, the Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday said that New Delhi takes Vienna's obligations very seriously of providing security to foreign diplomats in India, adding that it expects the same from the Canadian side.
"We take our obligations of Vienna convention very seriously. We will be certainly providing all security to foreign diplomats in India. We also expect Canadian authorities to show similar sensitivity to our diplomats in Canada," Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said.
His statement comes amid the prevailing diplomatic standoff between India and Canada. Notably, both countries expelled envoys in a tit-for-tat move after the allegations were levelled by Canadian PM Justin Trudeau alleging India's role behind the killing of Khalistani extremist Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
While giving further details on the security position of Indian Consulates and diplomats, he said, "We have always believed that it is the host government's responsibility to provide security. In some places, we have our own security posture also. But, I don't want to discuss security measures in public. That's not an appropriate situation."
Notably, Article 22 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations addresses the protection of diplomatic premises and states that the premises of a diplomatic mission, including the buildings, the land they occupy, and other property, are inviolable. It entrusts the host country with the duty to protect these premises from any intrusion, damage, or disturbance in order to prevent any interference with the mission's peaceful functioning and the diplomats' ability to carry out their duties.
In view of the prevailing diplomatic tension, Bagchi said that India has suspended visa services in Canada because the country’s High Commission and consulates in that country face security threats.
"You are aware of the security threats being faced by our High Commission and Consulates in Canada. This has disrupted their normal functioning. Accordingly, our High Commission and Consulates are temporarily unable to process visa applications. We will be reviewing the situation on a regular basis," he said.
Answering a query on e-visas, Bagchi said e-visas are also on temporary suspension and all categories of visas are suspended.
"The issue is not about travel to India. Those who have valid visas, OCIs are free to travel to India. The issue is the incitement of violence, inaction by Canadian authorities and the creation of an environment that disrupts the functioning of our consulates which is what is making us stop temporarily the issuance of visa services. We will review this situation on a regular basis." he added.
MEA also said that they have issued an advisory for all the Indians present in Canada to take proper caution and asserted that the Indian Consulate is working in Canada to help people in any unusual situation.
"We've issued an advisory to take precautions. Our Consulate is working there. We have said that if they face any problem, they can contact our Consulate...," he added.
On Wednesday, Indian nationals, students in Canada and those planning on travelling to the country were advised to exercise caution. Indian nationals and Indian students in Canada were advised to avoid travelling to regions and potential venues in Canada that have seen growing anti-India activities, according to a release issued by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
Indian students in Canada have been particularly advised to exercise extreme caution and remain vigilant.
The updated travel advisory for students came amidst a strain in India-Canada relations after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday alleged that the Indian government was behind the fatal shooting of Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
Nijjar, who was a designated terrorist in India, was gunned down outside a Gurdwara, in a parking area in Canada's Surrey, British Columbia on June 18.
Trudeau during a debate in the Canadian Parliament, claimed his country's national security officials had reasons to believe that "agents of the Indian government" carried out the killing of the Canadian citizen, who also served as the president of Surrey's Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara.
The allegations made by the Canadian Prime Minister and foreign minister were rejected by the Ministry of External Affairs in India which dubbed the statements as absurd.
"We have seen and reject the statement of the Canadian Prime Minister in their Parliament, as also the statement by their Foreign Minister. Allegations of the Government of India's involvement in any act of violence in Canada are absurd and motivated" the statement said.