New Delhi: The Canadian High Commission surely needs a lesson in diplomacy. It first called the Border Security Force (BSF) a "notoriously violent force" and now it turns out it claimed the Intelligence Bureau is involved in terrorism.
CNN-IBN learns the High Commission in New Delhi rejected the application of a retired Intelligence Bureau (IB) officer, who had applied for a temporary resident visa to visit his son who is settled in Canada.
The High Commission told SS Sidhu, who held the rank of deputy director in IB, in March 2010 that the IB is involved in terrorism and also snoops around.
The Union Home Ministry, which oversees the IB, has lodged a strong protest and called the High Commission’s comments discriminatory. The matter is now with the External Affairs Ministry.
Sidhu told CNN-IBN the High Commission rejected his visa twice on grounds that his past job was with an organization that was involved in “terror activities” and his visit could be a threat to the people of Canada.
"This is the biggest insult to the country. They have described a Home Ministry department as an organiation indulging in terrorism. I submitted my reply to the Canadian High Commission again but their reply was the same," says Sidhu.
CNN-IBN learns that Canadian High Commission also rejected the visa applications of retired Army officer Lt. General A S Bahiya and his wife because he had served in Jammu and Kashmir.
Visa requests of three serving Army officers were rejected as they may have violated human rights in Kashmir. Moreover, two serving Punjab Police officers were accused of human rights violations.
Earlier, in a diplomatic blunder, the High Commission called the BSF a "notoriously violent force" that engaged in "systematic torture".
The High Commission, while denying visa to Fateh Singh Pandher, a retired constable of BSF, told him that his visa application was "inadmissible" as he had served in a force that engaged in "systematic attacks on civilians".
Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao on May 26 reacted sharply to the High Commission’s comments on the BSF and said India takes the matter “very seriously”.
“The matter was taken up immediately with the Canadian high commission. We take this matter very seriously. We have expressed concern and we continue to take this seriously,” Rao said.
Even though MEA has taken up these new cases with Canada but what is shocking is that these may be just the tip of the iceberg.
Sources confirm these are neither isolated nor recent cases. They go back at least a couple of years and there may be more such cases. Canada has also been told it is unacceptable to cast aspersions on India's security agencies.
Sources say the Canadian High Commissioner could be summoned to clarify his country's stand and that the concerned immigration official at the High Commission will be recalled. The controversy couldn't have come at a worse time for Canada as it is counting on Indian support at the G20 summit in Toronto next month.