‘India said such activity not their policy, investigating further’: US on ‘foiled plot’ to kill Khalistani separatist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun | India News


In the first comments from the US over a report on India’s alleged involvement in a plot to kill Khalistani terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a White House spokesperson said they are treating this issue with “utmost seriousness” and have raised it with the Indian government at the seniormost levels.

The comments from the National Security Council Spokesperson Adrienne Watson came after the UK-based daily Financial Times reported that the US “thwarted a conspiracy to assassinate” Gurpatwant Singh Pannun on American soil and “issued a warning to India’s government over concerns it was involved in the plot,”.

Watson said, “Indian counterparts expressed surprise and concern. They stated that activity of this nature was not their policy. Based on a discussion with senior US Government officials, we understand the Indian government is further investigating this issue and will have more to say about it in the coming days. We have conveyed our expectation that anyone deemed responsible should be held accountable.”

The FT report about the ploy against Pannun came two months after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau alleged that Canadian security agencies were probing “credible allegations” about a potential link between Indian government agents and the killing of Khalistan separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Vancouver in June. The Indian government had rejected Canada’s allegations as “absurd” and “motivated”.

On Wednesday, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) official spokesperson, Arindam Bagchi, responded to queries on the FT report.

“During the course of recent discussions on India-US security cooperation, the US side shared some inputs pertaining to the nexus between organised criminals, gun-runners, terrorists and others. The inputs are a cause of concern for both countries and they decided to take necessary follow-up action,” said Bagchi.

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“On its part, India takes such inputs seriously since it impinges on our own national security interests as well. Issues in the context of US inputs are already being examined by relevant departments,” he said.

When asked about the report, the spokesperson for the US Embassy in New Delhi said: “We do not comment on diplomatic, law enforcement, or intelligence discussions with our partners.”

According to the FT report, the US, Canada and allies shared details and the Nijjar killing and the Pannun assassination plot sparked concerns “about a possible pattern of behaviour” on Delhi’s part. The US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada are part of the intelligence-sharing network “Five Eyes”.

The US protest was issued after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit to Washington in June this year, according to the FT report. It also said it was not clear “whether the protest to New Delhi led the plotters to abandon their plan, or whether the FBI intervened and foiled a scheme already in motion”.

On his part, Pannun, the report said, “declined to say whether US authorities had warned him about the plot”. He said he would “let the US government respond to the issue of threats to my life on American soil from the Indian operatives”, according to FT.

Pannun, who holds the citizenship of the US and Canada, is the general counsel for Sikhs for Justice. Earlier this week, the NIA booked him under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for allegedly threatening passengers flying via Air India.

Pannun was designated an “individual terrorist” on July 1, 2020, and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had banned the SFJ on July 10, 2019, under the UAPA.


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