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Canada denies visa to ex-Indian army officer for IHK abuses

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NEW DELHI: Just days after Canada refused visa to a retired Indian trooper of Border Security Force (BSF) on charges of involvement in human rights violations in Indian-held Kashmir (IHK), one more incident of a denial of visa to a retired Lieutenant General of the Indian army by the Canadian Home Office on the same grounds has come to light.

A retired Lieutenant General of the Indian army, AS Bahia, who served as a member of the Defence Appellate Tribunal, told the media that the Canadian Home Office refused to grant him a visa because he had served in the sensitive location of IHK and his unit, the Rashtriya Rifles (RR), was involved in human rights violations in IHK.

The issue first came to light when the Canadian High Commission denied visa last week to a retired Border Security Force (BSF) trooper Fateh Singh Pandher on grounds that he was associated with a notoriously violent force that indulged in human rights violations in IHK. Canada has denied visas to a member of the Indian Armed Forces Tribunal, three serving Brigadiers, a retired Lieutenant General and a former senior IB official on the grounds that their organisations have been engaging in violence. In another revelation, two Brigadiers were denied visas in 2008 and another in 2009. A retired Lieutenant General RN Bhatia was also refused visa in 2008.

Separately, India said on Thursday it had summoned Canada’s high commissioner and lodged a strong protest after several officials linked with its security establishment were denied Canadian visas.

The visa rejections, on grounds of human rights records, came to light just weeks before Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is to travel to Toronto for a G20 meeting. Indian Foreign Minister SM Krishna expressed hope that Ottawa would solve the issue appropriately.

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