BLS International Services Ltd., the agency entrusted by India to carry out the initial screening of Canadian visa applications, disclosed on Thursday the suspension of Indian visa services in Canada citing “operational reasons.”
This decision comes in response to India’s suspension of visa services for Canadian citizens until further notice, amid an ongoing diplomatic dispute between the two nations. The disagreement originated from allegations by the Canadian government implicating Indian government agents in the killing of Khalistani leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Canada back in June.
In a stock exchange filing, BLS International emphasized that the suspension of Indian visa services in Canada, effective from September 21, 2023, would have minimal repercussions on its financials. The Canadian visa issuance segment contributes less than 2% to BLS International’s total annual revenue.
The stock market also reacted to this development, with shares of BLS International experiencing a 2.15% decline and closing at ₹263.65 on the BSE on Thursday. At its lowest point during the day, the stock fell by 3.41% to ₹260.25. On the NSE, the stock exhibited a 2.42% decline, closing at ₹263.40. Consequently, BLS International’s market valuation decreased by ₹213.99 crore, amounting to ₹10,855.55 crore.
Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Canadian citizen and the president of Surrey’s Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara, remains at the center of the diplomatic dispute.
India has firmly rejected Canada’s allegations, dismissing the statements as “absurd.” Arindam Bagchi, spokesperson for India’s external affairs ministry, asserted that the security situation, stemming from the Canadian government’s perceived inaction, has resulted in disruptions and the subsequent suspension of visa applications.
It is noteworthy that this suspension encompasses all categories of visas, including e-visas, as confirmed by Bagchi.
Meanwhile, the High Commission of Canada in India announced on Thursday that it is assessing its diplomatic staff’s deployment in India. In a statement, the Canadian high commission explained, “In light of the current environment where tensions have heightened, we are taking action to ensure the safety of our diplomats.” The statement further revealed, “With some diplomats having received threats on various social media platforms, Global Affairs Canada is assessing its staff complement in India.”