Canada denied visas to army officers; MHA angry

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Old 26-May-2010
Canada denied visas to army officers; MHA angry

In fresh revelations of provocative actions, Canada has denied visas to a member of the Armed Forces Tribunal, three serving Brigadiers, a retired Lt General and a former senior Intelligence Bureau official on the grounds that their organisations have been engaging in violence.

A serving IB officer, assigned to travel to Toronto in connection with the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's trip there next month, was also denied visa recently but was later allowed to travel after protest from India .

The denial of visas, over the last two years, has angered the Union home ministry which has warned that India would also "retaliate" by denying visas to Canadian officials who go to Afghanistan via this country.

Lt Gen (retd) A S Bahia, a decorated Indian military officer who is now a member of the Armed Forces Tribunal in Chandigarh, was refused visa in May this year, contending that he had served in a "sensitive location" of Jammu and Kashmir .

Bahia, who retired as the Quarter Master General on April 30, 2006, told PTI over phone that he had brought the matter to the notice of appropriate authorities.

In another revelation, two brigadiers were denied visas in 2008 and another in 2009. A retired Lt General R N Bhatia was also refused visa in 2008 on the similar grounds.

S S Sidhu, a retired IB officer, was denied visa on March 26 this year, with the Canadian High Commission saying that he belonged to the "inadmissible" category of persons.

The rejection letter said he could not be given visa as he had served in an organisation like IB and that led to apprehension that he could "engage in an act of espionage or subversion", or "violence that would or might endanger the lives or safety of persons in Canada."

Sidhu termed it as a "disgusting reply from a friendly country like Canada and an insult to India."

He said he wanted to go to Canada just to see the new house of his daughter. These revelations came four days after a case of denial of visa to a retired Border Security Force constable came to light.

He had been refused visa on similar grounds. In view of these cases, the home ministry has written to the external affairs ministry, asking it to take up the issue strongly with the Canadian High Commission.

The Home Ministry wants the Canadian High Commission to apologise, withdraw the comments and take action against the officers responsible for such behaviour.

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