Outrage on visa denial issue but Canada mum



New Delhi: Amid an outrage over its denunciation of Indian security forces and intelligence establishment, the Canadian government chose to remain mum.

Canadian diplomats here did not take phone calls of journalists while emails sent to their headquarters in Ottawa resulted in pass-the-buck attitude with their Foreign Ministry saying the query should be addressed to the Interior Ministry.

The Interior Ministry did not respond to an email.

The stony silence by the Canadian government came even as the Home Ministry is pushing the External Affairs Ministry to adopt a tough line over the issue and political parties reacted with outrage over Canada's behaviour.

The Canadian High Commission, over the last few years, has denied visas to a number of senior serving and retired officials of the armed forces and intelligence establishment, claiming that their organisations or they themselves have served in sensitive areas like Jammu and Kashmir and engaged in violence and human rights violations.

Home Secretary G K Pillai has written a strongly-worded letter to Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, insisting that the MEA should act tough and seek apology from the High Commission and withdrawal of the officials who made the adverse comments against the security forces, sources said.

The Home Ministry wants the apology and the other action from the High Commission within a week, warning that there will otherwise be retaliation and the Canadian officials going to Afghanistan via India would be denied permission.

External Affairs Ministry sources said it has taken up the matter with the Canadian High Commission "more than once".

Meanwhile, BJP today accused the Government of following "a very weak" foreign policy.

"Has India's foreign policy become so weak that a country like Canada is denying visas to top offficials?.. We don't need any certificate from Canada on our armed forces but such incidents show that we are following a very weak foreign policy," party spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters.

He said that while India was fighting terrorism for the past several decades, the government was unable to present its case properly before the world.

NDA convenor and JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav said, "this kind of attitude by a country like Canada only goes on to show that India has become subservient to such countries."

He said, "if the nation is strong then nobody can behave in such manner with us. There is a need to strengthen India in front of the world."

Congress also disapproved of the Canadian action.

PTI