Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has affirmed the nation’s commitment to investigating any evidence presented regarding alleged connections to a US-based assassination plot. The charges, brought forward in November, implicated an Indian individual in a conspiracy to murder a Sikh separatist leader in New York.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Prime Minister Modi emphasized that these allegations would not adversely impact the India-US relationship. This marks the first time he has publicly addressed the issue, stating, “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.”
The targeted individual, Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a dual US-Canadian citizen and Khalistan movement supporter, was reportedly the focus of an attempted assassination. US prosecutors asserted that Nikhil Gupta had paid $100,000 in cash to a hitman to carry out the act and alleged the involvement of an Indian government official.
India has labeled Mr. Pannun a terrorist, while he claims to be an activist. The accusations surfaced around two months after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused India of links to the murder of another Sikh separatist leader, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, in Canada.
Denying the allegations, India accused Canada of sheltering “Khalistani terrorists and extremists.” Despite repeated Indian claims of insufficient evidence from Canada, a diplomatic strain has developed between the two nations.
Trudeau, in an interview with CBC, disclosed that he went public with the allegations after weeks of private diplomacy to “put a chill on India” and dissuade potential attackers in Canada. He noted a shift in India’s tone following similar allegations by the US.
The diplomatic tensions have ramifications for India’s relations with Western countries, particularly the US. While experts suggest that accusations of extra-judicial killings of Sikh separatists may strain ties, Prime Minister Modi remains confident in the positive trajectory of the India-US relationship. He underscored bipartisan support for strengthening the partnership, emphasizing that it is inappropriate to link isolated incidents to broader diplomatic relations.
Moreover, Modi expressed concerns about the activities of certain extremist groups based overseas, highlighting India’s commitment to addressing these challenges.