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India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) shakes hand with Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ahead of the G20 Leaders' Summit in New Delhi on September 9, 2023. (Photo by Evan Vucci / POOL / AFP) Image Credit: AFP

New Delhi: India has suspended the issuing of visas in Canada, the service provider said Thursday, amid a diplomatic row sparked by Ottowa's accusation New Delhi was involved in the killing of a Sikh separatist near Vancouver.

BLS International, an Indian company offering visa facilities, had earlier said the notice from the Indian mission in Canada cited "operational reasons" for suspension of visa services "till further notice".

"Important notice from Indian Mission: Due to operational reasons, with effect from 21 September 2023, Indian visa services have been suspended till further notice," BLS International posted on their website Thursday.

Shortly after the announcement was splashed across Indian media, BLS removed the notice from their website. There was no immediate comment from India's foreign ministry.

An official at New Delhi-headquartered BLS said they did not want to be quoted and referred AFP to Indian authorities. India's foreign ministry spokesperson did not respond to queries about the matter.

Tensions between the two countries escalated earlier this week when Canada said that it was "actively pursuing credible allegations" linking Indian government agents to the murder of a Sikh leader in British Columbia in June.

Indian government categorically rejected Canada's suspicions that Indian agents had links to the alleged murder.

With both nations expelling diplomats, analysts said India and Canada diplomatic ties have touched their lowest point.

Canada is India's 17th largest foreign investor, pouring in more than $3.6 billion since 2000, while Canadian portfolio investors have invested billions of dollars in Indian stock and debt markets.

Since 2018, India has been the largest source country for international students in Canada.

In 2022, their number rose 47 per cent to nearly 320,000, accounting for about 40% of total overseas students, the Canadian Bureau of International Education says, which also helps universities and colleges provide a subsidised education to domestic students.

Industry estimates show the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between Canada and India could boost two-way trade by as much as $6.5 billion, yielding a GDP gain of $3.8 billion to $5.9 billion for Canada by 2035.