Decision to halt visas for Canadians proving costly for Punjab: Akali Dal
India's visa halt for Canadian citizens during the wedding season and Punjab CM's silence are creating a major economic crisis, says SAD leader Bikram Majithia
India’s decision to stop visas for Canadian citizens — and Punjab chief minister Bhagwant Mann’s silence on the issue — is adversely affecting the lives of thousands of Punjabis, and the state is headed for "a big economic crisis" owing to this decision, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Bikram Majithia said on Monday.
In a statement, Majithia said the decision to stop visas for Canadian citizens has come at a time when the wedding season is about to begin in Punjab.
He said there are large numbers of Punjabi families settled in Canada who are now Canadian citizens, but prefer to perform marriages in Punjab.
Apart from such families, there are others who come for treatment since medical treatment is less expensive in India, and still others who visit India for family emergencies, personal loss, and other reasons.
The SAD leader said it is surprising to see that chief minister Mann is "shockingly silent" on the issue even though more than a fortnight has passed since the decision to suspend visas.
He said India’s decision after "only a single incident" is proving "highly discriminatory for Punjabis", and Mann’s silence on the issue indicates that he is "hand in glove" with the top BJP leadership, which Majithia claimed has been proved a number of times.
Majithia also said data from the Union ministry of tourism suggests that more than 24 per cent of Canadian tourists visiting India usually arrive during the wedding season. This means thousands of those who are involved in the catering business, or renting out wedding palaces and hotels, booking tickets, or offering tourism packages are all set for a big setback this season, he added.
Apart from that, those who visit Punjab to attend 'sports melas' have also been deprived by the decision, he said.
Majithjia urged both India and Canada to resolve the international issue amicably through one-to-one talks so that the "common man can be protected from huge suffering".