Ready to look into it: PM Modi on US plot allegations
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has, for the first time responded to the claims made by the US of an Indian link to an alleged foiled assassination plot against India designated terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, and stated he will "look into" any evidence, adding that "few incidents" would not affect US-India ties.
"If someone gives us any information, we would definitely look into it," PM Modi said in an interview with the UK based newspaper Financial Times.
"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 Prime Minister said.
Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, who was declared a 'designated individual terrorist' by the Government of India on July 1, 2020, has been actively exhorting Punjab-based gangsters and youth over social media to fight for the cause of the independent state of Khalistan, challenging the sovereignty, integrity and security of the country, N1A investigations have shown.
Pannun has been under the NIA lens since 2019 when the anti-terror agency registered its first case against him.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Modi also raised concerns over extremist activities, and said, India was "deeply concerned about the activities of certain extremist groups based overseas," adding "These elements, under the guise of freedom of expression, have engaged in intimidation and incited violence," Financial Times reported.
He also said, "There is strong bipartisan support for the strengthening of this relationship, which is a clear indicator of a mature and stable partnership."
"Security and counter-terrorism co-operation has been a key component of our partnership," he told the FT.
"I don't think it is appropriate to link a few incidents with diplomatic relations between the two countries," PM Modi added.
Recently in May, PM Modi visited the US at the invitation of President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden for the state visit. Following which, Biden came to India in September to attend the G20 Summit that took place here in New Delhi under India's Presidency.
Significantly, the US Justice Department had claimed that an Indian government employee, who was not identified in the indictment filed in a federal court in Manhattan, recruited a fellow Indian identified as Nikhil Gupta to hire a hitman to allegedly assassinate Pannun, who is a dual-citizen of the US and Canada.
It added that the alleged plot was foiled by the US authorities.
The Justice Department claimed that Gupta, an associate of CC-1 (an unidentified person who directed the alleged plot), described his involvement in international narcotics and weapons trafficking in his communications with CC-1.
Pannun, had recently threatened to attack India's Parliament.
On this, the official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, Arindam Bagchi had said, "We do take threats seriously. We are caught in a bind here. I don't want to amplify too much credence to search for extremists who make threats and get a lot of coverage.
"We have taken up this matter with the US and Canadian authorities. Extremists and terrorists have the tendency to want media coverage on an issue," he said.
"He is wanted by our agencies for violation of the law and there is a process under which we seek assistance and that they are prosecuted, depending on whether the crime is committed. In our case, I think requests have gone through detailing the kind of crimes that he is responsible for, in India...We have also flagged concerns to our partners regarding any threats made by extremists or terrorists against India or Indian diplomats," Bagchi added.
Moreover, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also claimed in September that his administration had reasons to believe that India was behind the assassination of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar on Canadian territory.
However, the allegations were outright rejected by the Ministry of External Affairs, which labelled them as absurd and motivated.
The story was first reported by the Financial Times. The Financial Times is a British daily business newspaper.