To give visa, Canada demands ‘secret’ details

Amid the shrill indignation over Canada's "insults" to Indian security and intelligence personnel, what has got drowned are the actual questions Ottawa has been asking of Indians seeking a visa to visit that country.

The details sought by Canada in its visa form are extremely sensitive in nature. Retired and serving personnel from the armed forces are required to provide specific information on operational details like all past postings, names of units, their locations, detailed duties being performed, and the names of superiors.

Going by military law, these details are classified as "secret" and are not to be shared by the personnel concerned. While these details may not by themselves compromise national security in the normal course, vital facts can easily be meshed together to reveal operational details and roles of units based at sensitive locations.

It is learnt that the matter was first raised by the Defence Ministry close to two years ago after the first cases of visa rejection came to light. The Ministry sent a letter to the Ministry of External Affairs apprising it of its concerns; the practice of seeking sensitive details has, however, continued.

Applicants with a military background, both serving and retired, need to fill a special 'details of military service' form. This highly intrusive form asks for the applicant's past service record, right from the rank and title to the roles the individual performed in the unit. Some of the details sought:

*What formations or units did you serve with? Where were these formations and units located when you served with them, what were their roles and what was your responsibility? What were the dates that you served with these units and formations?

*What was the rank, name and position of your immediate superior within the units or formations that you served? What was the rank, name and position of your immediate superior's commander within those units and formations?

... contd.

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