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White House calls for full investigation into alleged failed plot to kill Pannun
Washington, DC: The White House emphasised the strategic partnership between the United States and India while urging New Delhi to ensure accountability in the alleged plot to assassinate Khalistani terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, an American citizen.
National Security spokesperson John Kirby addressed reporters at a White House news conference, highlighting the importance of the bilateral relationship. "India is a strategic partner. We're deepening that strategic partnership. They're a member of the Quad in the Pacific. We participate with them on a range of issues and we want to see that continue unabated. That said, at the same time, we certainly recognise the seriousness of these allegations," Kirby said.
Responding to a query on the potential impact on the India-US relationship, Kirby stressed the need for a thorough investigation. "We want it fully investigated and those responsible to be held properly accountable. It's under active investigation. We've said that we're glad that our Indian counterparts are taking it seriously and doing that. We want those responsible for these attacks to be held fully accountable, but I won't get ahead of an investigation that isn't complete," he added.
Meanwhile, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Thursday that an inquiry committee is looking into inputs shared by the US related to the nexus of organised crime and trafficking in the context of an alleged murder attempt on a US national and that Canada had given no evidence about its allegations, so the question of equitable treatment to the two countries does not arise.
The minister was responding to a question in the Rajya Sabha by CPI (M) MP John Brittas about media reports of the US linking an Indian official to an alleged murder attempt on a US national and government's rebuttal to Canada's charges.
He said the inputs shared by the US have a bearing on the country's national security and an inquiry committee has been constituted.
"Insofar as the US is concerned, certain inputs were given to us as part of our security cooperation with the US. Those inputs were of concern to us because they related to the nexus of organised crime, trafficking and other matters. So, because it has a bearing on our own national security, it was decided to institute an inquiry into the matter and an inquiry committee has been constituted. Insofar as Canada is concerned, no specific evidence or inputs were provided to us," the minister said.
"So, the question of equitable treatment to two countries one of whom has provided inputs and one of whom has not, does not arise," he said.
Brittas asked if India was not giving equal treatment to two countries.
Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said during a media briefing last month that during the course of discussions with the United States on bilateral security cooperation, the US side shared some inputs pertaining to the nexus between organised criminals, gun runners, terrorists, and other extremists.
"We take, of course, such inputs very seriously, and a high-level inquiry committee has been constituted to look into all the relevant aspects of the matter. And necessary follow-up action will be taken based on the findings of the enquiry committee" the spokesperson had said.
The spokesperson also referred to the US Department of Justice unsealing an indictment against an Indian national for his alleged involvement in a foiled plot to assassinate a US-based Sikh separatist.
"As regards the case against an individual that has been filed in a US court, allegedly linking him to an Indian official, this is a matter of concern. We have said, and let me reiterate, that this is also contrary to government policy. The nexus between organized crime, trafficking, gun running, and extremists at an international level is a serious issue for law enforcement agencies and organizations to consider, and it is precisely for that reason that a high-level enquiry committee has been constituted, and we will obviously be guided by its results," the MEA spokesperson had said.
"In so far as Canada is concerned, we have said that they have consistently given space to anti-India extremists and violence, and that is actually the heart of the issue. Our diplomatic representatives in Canada have borne the brunt of this, so we expect the Government of Canada to live up to its obligations under the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations. We have also seen interference by Canadian diplomats in our internal affairs. We have said this from this podium, and that is obviously unacceptable," he had added.
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 an Indian national named Nikhil Gupta to hire a hitman to allegedly carry out the assassination of the Sikh Separatist, which was foiled by US authorities.
The US Justice Department claimed that Gupta, is an associate of CC-1 (an unidentified person who directed the alleged plot), and has described his involvement in international narcotics and weapons trafficking in his communications with CC-1. The indictment claims CC -1 directed the assassination plot from India.