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Students from India watch as tensions escalate between India and Canada

India’s move to suspend visa services for Canadian citizens, and the growing tensions between the two countries are being watched very closely in the Maritimes, especially among students.

“Canada hasn’t given any information that they’re going to stop the services but I hope they don’t,” said Sidhantdeep Singh, a computer science student at Dalhousie University.

While Singh’s four-year visa is secure, he worries Canada may retaliate by also suspending visa services.

“I was planning to bring my mom and dad soon to Canada because I’m going to graduate soon,” he said.

On Thursday, India suspended visa services for Canadian citizens. On Wednesday, it updated a travel advisory and urged its citizens, as well as those studying in the country to be cautious because of “growing anti-India activities and politically condoned hate-crimes.”

All of it comes after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke to Parliament Monday, announcing “credible allegations” that India was involved in the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Sikh independence activist who lived in B.C.

Abeed Mulla is also studying computer science at Dalhousie. He said his family checked-in to make sure he’s okay and advised him to limit travel between university and home.

Mulla said he feels safe but he questions what’s next.

“I hope that the relations get good. It’s difficult for us as international students,” he said.

Lorn Sheehan, a professor of strategy at Dalhousie University’s Rowe School of Business, believes the decision by India to suspend visa services for Canadians could hurt business relationships.

“Where we can’t travel as easily to India now because those visa services have been suspended,” said Sheehan. “The other issue that I think is going to affect India is they’ll have less in-bound tourism traffic from Canada as a result of this.”

Sheehan noted India’s travel advisory and statement Wednesday will have a greater impact on Canada’s tourism industry.

“That will cause Indians to either cut their vacations short in Canada, a trip short in Canada or to not go if the trip hasn’t already begun,” Sheehan said.

Nova Scotia has nearly more than 10,700 international students in the province, and about a third are from India.

Speaking with reporters on Thursday, Nova Scotia’s Minister of Advanced Education Brian Wong said international students are important to the province.

“I do feel for international students, especially those from India of the uncertainty,” said Wong.

“This is certainly a federal issue and we will continue to monitor the actions of the federal government.”

- With files from the Canadian Press Top Stories

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