Denial of entry to 2 AAP MLAs; Canada asked to respond

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Chandigarh : India has sought a response from the Canadian government why two AAP MLAs in Punjab were denied entry to Canada at the Ottawa airport.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said the Indian mission had been told to find out "the circumstances and reasons for this deplorable action by the Canadian immigration authorities".

This followed a letter from Punjab Assembly Speaker Rana K.P. Singh after Kultar Singh Sandhwan and Amarjit Singh Sandoa were denied entry at the Ottawa International Airport on July 21.

Both are legislators from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

In a letter to the Speaker, Sushma Swaraj said the Indian High Commission in Ottawa had taken up the matter with the Canadian government.

The Minister said: "We take all matters pertaining to members of our legislative bodies very seriously. In fact, the moment I was apprised of the treatment meted out to the two AAP MLAs by the Canadian authorities, my office immediately contacted the High Commissioner in Ottawa to ascertain the facts.

"I fully agree with you that elected members of our Assemblies deserve to be treated with courtesy and respect whenever they travel abroad.

"The Canadian Foreign Office has sent the (Indian) mission an interim response stating that 'consultations with the Canadian Border Services Agency are ongoing to determine a comprehensive response'.

"Our Mission will continue to pursue this issue with the Canadian side to ensure that such incidents do not recur in the future," she said in the letter.

The Speaker has advised all the MLAs to follow the prescribed procedure while visiting abroad including obtaining political clearance from the External Affairs Ministry and providing prior information to Indian missions abroad, even on private visits.

Sushma Swaraj pointed out that Indian diplomats in Canada were unaware of the visit of these two MLAs.

"Neither was the Indian External Affairs Ministry informed of the visit nor the requisite political clearance sought," she pointed out.