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India moves to ease diplomatic relations with Canada

INDIA restored electronic visa services for Canadian nationals, an Indian foreign ministry official said today, two months after Canada alleged the South Asian nation was involved in the assassination of a Sikh separatist in Canada.

The electronic visa was back in order on Wednesday, the official told reporters.

The move could ease tensions between the two countries that swapped accusations and expelled each other’s diplomats with India introducing a visa ban on Canadian nationals.

A diplomatic row erupted between the two countries after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in September that there were “credible allegations” of Indian involvement in the killing of Canadian citizen Hardeep Singh Nijjar in suburban Vancouver in western Canada.

Mr Nijjar, a Sikh activist and plumber, was killed by masked gunmen in June in Surrey, outside Vancouver.

Mr Nijjar made a name for himself as a vocal advocate for the creation of Khalistan, a separate homeland for Sikhs, who are a religious minority that makes up about 2 per cent of India’s population.

He had been labelled a terrorist by India, accused of, among other activities, being the “mastermind” behind the Khalistan Tiger Force, a banned militant group in the country.

India dismissed allegations of involvement in the killing as “absurd.”

New Delhi’s worries about Sikh separatist groups in Canada have long strained the relationship between the two countries, despite maintaining strong defence and trade ties. India had previously accused Canada of harbouring separatists and “terrorists.”

The allegation brought the fall out between the two countries to the forefront, with Canada recalling 41 of its 62 diplomats in India after New Delhi warned it would strip their diplomatic immunity.

Canadian officials characterised this as a violation of the Geneva Convention.

Last month, India eased the ban and resumed services for entry, business, medical and conference visas for Canadian nationals.

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