Days after it came to light that the Canadian High Commission had refused to grant visa to a retired Constable of the Border Security Force, citing his association with the “notoriously violent force” as the reason for the denial, it has now emerged that a retired official of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) was refused a temporary resident visa to Canada in March this year because of his past membership with the IB, which the Canadian High Commission said put him under an “inadmissible class of persons”.
The matter has infuriated the Indian security establishment, which, led by the Ministry of Home Affairs, is now pressing for corrective action. Union Home Secretary G K Pillai has shot off a strongly worded letter to Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao stating that the Canadian High Commission’s stance was unacceptable and discriminatory and that the matter be taken up on priority.
Pillai is learnt to have communicated to the Ministry of External Affairs that if this kind of a stance continued, there will be no option left for the Indian authorities but to “retaliate”. The MHA is learnt to have conveyed to the MEA that the government should demand an apology from the Canadian authorities, seek withdrawal of the comments made, and also seek action against the Immigration official concerned.
Summoning the Canadian High Commissioner, the MEA has taken up the matter with the Canadian authorities. Sources said the number of cases where Canada had refused visas to Indian nationals on similar grounds has already touched “double digits”.
With Prime Minister Manmohan Singh slated to visit Canada from June 25 to 28 to attend the G-20 Summit, the matter could generate some heat in the days to come.
Refusing visa to retired IB official S S Sidhu, Canadian High Commission’s First Secretary (Immigration) Sophie Auger wrote to him on March 26 stating that “your past membership in the Intelligence Bureau gives me reasonable grounds to believe that your are described in A 34 (1)(f), coupled with A 34 (1) (a) of the Act”. These sections in Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act relate to being a member of an organisation that engages in “espionage”, “subversion against a democratic government, institution or process as they are understood in Canada”, and “terrorism”.
Sidhu. 63, is a retired Class I officer. His son is a permanent resident of Canada and he had already gone there in October 2007 for two weeks. Wanting to visit his son again, he applied for a Canadian visa in July 2009, but was denied. He again represented his case in writing and tried to convince the Canadian authorities that the IB was an agency under the MHA. After retired BSF Constable Fateh Singh Pandher’s case came to light, Sidhu approached the IB.
It has also emerged that Canada denied visas to three serving Brigadiers and two retired Lt Gens of the Army on grounds that they had served in Jammu and Kashmir.
Does it give reality check for Indian government? With Canadian Govt. checking its own military, it seems that It is not a case of discrimination but a real case of applying human rights rule.
At the same time, canada is not lax in implementing rules for terrorism.