Canada denies visa to former Indian BSF head constable

Canada denies visa to former Indian BSF head constable

May 22, 2010   03:55 pm


New Delhi: Canada’s decision to deny a retired head constable of the BSF a permanent visa on grounds that it was a “violent” and “notorious” force has vitiated relations with Ottawa barely weeks before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is due to visit that country.



“I received a letter from the Canadian High Commission on December 8 last year. It said that visa was being denied to me since I was a member of the BSF which is a violent and notorious paramilitary force,” Fateh Singh Pandher, now in his late 60s, told The Hindu on Friday on the phone from Ludhiana.



Mr. Pandher said he, along with his wife, had visited Canada in 2005 for six months and then returned home. “Since one of my daughters is settled inCanada, I and my wife also wanted to live with her and applied for a permanent visa in 2008.” He took up visa denial with the BSF headquarters in the capital and also brought it to the notice of senior officials, including the Director-General, who later drew the attention of the Home Ministry to the issue.



Indian officials told The Hindu that the Canadian letter was an affront to the country and the government and that a serious view had been taken of it at the highest levels. “The decision to grant or deny a visa is Canada´s sovereign right,” an official said, but “they have no right to pass this kind of judgment on the BSF, which is one of our border guarding security forces.”



The officials said the letter, signed by a consular official in the Canadian High Commission in India last year, was brought to the notice of the government only recently.



“We are not keeping quiet about this,” an official said, adding the issue had already been taken up with the Canadian government. There was added sensitivity because Dr. Singh was due to visit Toronto for G-20 summit in June.



On record, all that the spokesperson of the External Affairs Ministry was prepared to say was “the matter has come to the attention of the Ministry and has been appropriately taken up with the Canadian side.” – (The Hindu)

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