Canada has denied visas to several retired and serving army officers as well as a retired Intelligence Bureau (IB) official citing rules that question the army’s track record and suggest the IB may be engaged in terrorist activities.
<b1>Home secretary GK Pillai on Wednesday complained to the foreign ministry about the “discriminatory” grounds on which the Canadian High Commission here is rejecting visa requests. He had written to foreign secretary Nirupama Rao last week on a complaint from a retired Border Security Force officer, Fateh Singh Pandher, whose visa request was rejected by the mission on the grounds that the BSF was a “a notoriously violent paramilitary unit”.
The ministry had summoned the Canadian high commissioner to lodge its protest.
Senior security officials said if the government did not get Canada to apologise and withdraw the remarks, Canadian citizens would find it difficult to visit India. “Or those with valid visas might be turned back from the airport on security grounds,” one of them said.
The IB operates the Bureau of Immigration.
Canada rejected the visa request of retired IB officer SS Sidhu citing its Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, which bars members of organisations that have engaged, or will engage, in terrorism, instigating subversion by force of any government or espionage.
It also denied visas to three serving brigadiers in 2008-09, reportedly on the grounds that they had served in the counter-insurgency grid in J&K.