India threatens retaliation, Canada mum
PRESS TRUST OF INDIA
New Delhi, May 27: Amid an outrage over its denunciation of Indian security forces and intelligence establishment, the Canadian government chose to remain mum Thursday.
Canadian diplomats here did not take phone calls of journalists while emails sent to their headquarters in Ottawa resulted in pass-the-buck attitude with their Foreign Ministry saying the query should be addressed to the Interior Ministry.
The Interior Ministry did not respond to an email.
The stony silence by the Canadian government came even as the Home Ministry is pushing the External Affairs Ministry to adopt a tough line over the issue and political parties reacted with outrage over Canada’s behaviour.
The Canadian High Commission, over the last few years, has denied visas to a number of senior serving and retired officials of the armed forces and intelligence establishment, claiming that their organisations or they themselves have served in sensitive areas like Jammu and Kashmir and engaged in violence and human rights violations.
Home Secretary G K Pillai has written a strongly-worded letter to Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, insisting that the MEA should act tough and seek apology from the High Commission and withdrawal of the officials who made the adverse comments against the security forces, sources said.
The Home Ministry wants the apology and the other action from the High Commission within a week, warning that there will otherwise be retaliation and the Canadian officials going to Afghanistan via India would be denied permission.
Pillai said India will wait for a few days before deciding the course of action. “We will wait to hear from them. Let’s give them a few days’ time,” said Pillai.
External Affairs Minister has termed Canada’s decision to deny Indian security men visas as “unacceptable”.
Speaking in Bangalore, the minister said the Canadians have been told of India’s views.
“We have conveyed to the Canadian government that the letters issued by their High Commission to serving or retired officers who had applied for Canadian visa are entirely unacceptable. We expect the Canadians to address the situation,” he said.
Lt Gen (retd) AS Bahia, a decorated Indian Army officer who is now a member of the Armed Forces Tribunal in Chandigarh, 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.
SS Sidhu, a retired IB officer, was denied visa on March 26, with the Canadian high commission contending that he belonged to the “inadmissible” category of persons.
Last week, the Canadian high commission here refused a visa to Fateh Singh Pandher, a retired BSF constable, on grounds that he was associated with a “notoriously violent force”.
Meanwhile, BJP today accused the Government of following “a very weak” foreign policy.
“Has India’s foreign policy become so weak that a country like Canada is denying visas to top officials? We don’t need any certificate from Canada on our armed forces but such incidents show that we are following a very weak foreign policy,” party spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters.
He said that while India was fighting terrorism for the past several decades, the government was unable to present its case properly before the world.
NDA convenor and JD (U) chief Sharad Yadav said, “this kind of attitude by a country like Canada only goes on to show that India has become subservient to such countries.”
He said, “if the nation is strong then nobody can behave in such manner with us. There is a need to strengthen India in front of the world.”
Congress also disapproved of the Canadian action.
Lastupdate on : Thu, 27 May 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 27 May 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 28 May 2010 00:00:00 IST
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