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May 27, 2010 at 09:40pm IST

Visa row: India warns Canada of retaliation

New Delhi: Canada is feeling the heat after the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) summoned Canadian High Commissioner Joseph Caron and asked them to make a statement after several Indian security agency officers were denied visa to visit the North American country .

Canada also denied a visa to a serving Intelligence Bureau officer, who is a part of the advance team for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's G20 trip to Toronto in June. The reason given by the Canadian High Commission was that the officer is associated with a spy agency.

With the Home Ministry making it very clear that it was not going to take the denial of visas lightly, the MEA summoned Caron and read out the riot act. He was told to stop the blatant discrimination against Indian security agencies.

The Congress also reacted very strongly on the denial of visas by Canada to Indian security officials.

"This obviously is going to outrage sensibilities in India and create a reaction which possibly given our past understanding and past respect for each other as democracy, both countries would want to avoid," said Congress MP and party spokesperson Manish Tewari.

The IB officer was given a visa, but only after Canada was warned that India may start turning its citizens away because of "security" concerns.

But all, similarly humiliated, also deserve an apology.

Retired Border Security Force official Amrik Singh Tank was denied a visa merely because he was posted in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir

CNN-IBN has details of Tank's visa interview that took place in December 2008.

He was asked if he has questioned detainees, if he's been involved in Operation Blue Star, if he's ever killed militants, tortured suspects or seen others torture suspects.

Amrik's answer to each of these questions was "no".

Yet he was denied a visa. The noting on his file says he admitted to participating in torture on suspects, and watched other officers use a wooden roller on a suspect's legs.

Sources say India wants the accusations against him and all others withdrawn, the guilty visa officers recalled and visas issued to those denied if they choose to re-apply.

While India has leaned on Canada, there is a difference in the way MEA and Home Ministry perceive this problem. Home Ministry is particularly upset about denial of visas while MEA believes that it is the prerogative of individual countries.

What it would like Canada to do is withdraw offensive remarks about security agencies and armed forces.

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