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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 22 May 2024

A few incidents will not derail the India-US partnership, says Narendra Modi

Prime Minister refers to 'incidents' though allegation by US only specifically mentions one incident — the plot to murder a Sikh separatist in New York who was separately identified as Pannun

Our Special Correspondent New Delhi Published 21.12.23, 05:51 AM
Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. File picture

Prime Minister Narendra Modi this week broke his silence on the alleged plot to kill Khalistani activist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun of Sikhs for Justice in New York in an interview to the Financial Times but was confident that "a few incidents" would not derail the India-US partnership.

The US department of justice had on November 29 unsealed the indictment of an Indian, Nikhil Gupta, who is alleged to have been contracted by an Indian government agent to take out Khalistani separatists in North America. While the external affairs ministry has commented on this allegation and the government has set up a high-level probe, the Prime Minister had been silent on the issue till now. Welcoming the probe, the US has repeatedly stressed the need to fix responsibility.

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In a report based on the interview, the FT quoted Modi as saying that "if someone gives us any information, we would definitely look into it". Further, he was quoted as stating that "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 did not specifically make any reference to the US allegation about the involvement of an Indian government agent or official.

As for the impact of this on the bilateral relationship, Modi 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 cooperation has been a key component of our partnership.... I don’t think it is appropriate to link a few incidents with diplomatic relations between the two countries.”

The Prime Minister referred to "incidents" though the allegation by the US only specifically mentions one incident — the plot to murder a Sikh separatist in New York who was separately identified as Pannun. Since Modi also talked about India’s grievance over Khalistani activities in North America, he could be referring to them when he spoke about "a few incidents".

Stating that India is "deeply concerned about the activities of certain extremist groups based overseas", the Prime Minister said: "These elements, under the guise of freedom of expression, have engaged in intimidation and incited violence.”

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