Prime Minister Narendra Modi has for the first time responded to United States’ allegation that an Indian national conspired to kill a Sikh separatist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun on American soil.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Modi said, ‘If someone gives us any information, we would definitely look into it.’
‘If a citizen of ours has done anything good or bad, we are ready to look into it. Our commitment is to the rule of law,’ he added.
Modi sought to play down the diplomatic impact on the US-India relationship.
‘There is strong bipartisan support for the strengthening of this relationship, which is a clear indicator of a mature and stable partnership,’ he told the Financial Times.
‘Security and counter-terrorism co-operation has been a key component of our partnership,’ Modi added. ‘I don’t think it is appropriate to link a few incidents with diplomatic relations between the two countries.’
Modi said he is ‘deeply concerned about the activities of certain extremist groups based overseas.’
‘These elements, under the guise of freedom of expression, have engaged in intimidation and incited violence,’ he told the Financial Times.
India has constituted a team to investigate the allegations relating to the foiled plot to kill Gurpatwant Pannun, a Sikh extremist known to be an American and Canadian citizen.
Washington’s allegations relating to the unsuccessful plot came weeks after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau alleged that there was a ‘potential’ involvement of Indian agents in the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar in a Vancouver suburb in June.
US federal prosecutors has already charged Nikhil Gupta, 52, of working with an Indian government employee in the foiled plot to kill Pannun.
Pannun, a leader of the so-called ‘Sikhs for Justice’, is wanted by Indian probe agencies on various terror charges.
The Financial Times, citing unnamed sources, first reported that US authorities foiled a plot to assassinate Pannun, and issued a warning to the Indian government over concerns it was involved in the plot.
The Washington Post reported that said the Biden administration was so concerned after discovering the plot that it sent CIA Director William J Burns and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines to India in August and October respectively to demand investigation and hold those responsible to account.
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