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‘India-US partnership strong, extremist groups operating on foreign soil a matter of concern’: PM Modi over bilateral relations and claims of Pannun assassination plot

"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.

On 20th December (Wednesday), Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised concerns over extremist activities by foreign-based banned outfits in the guise of Freedom of expression. In an Interview with UK-based Financial Times, PM Modi said, “India was deeply concerned about the activities of certain extremist groups based overseas. These elements, under the guise of freedom of expression, have engaged in intimidation and incited violence.” 

PM Modi made these remarks while giving his first response to the claims made by the US of an Indian link to an alleged foiled assassination plot against terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun. Stating that he will “look into” any evidence, PM Modi alluded to the fact that US and Canada who have leveled allegations against India has not so far provided any evidence to back their charges against India.  

However, PM Modi added 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.

Notably, PM Modi dropped a hint for ‘foreign partners’ that they should not politically condone anti-India activities, a charge that the Indian Ministry of External Affairs raised over the Canadian govt’s policy following the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar. Additionally, the Prime Minister insinuated that the foreign governments should curb anti-India activities taking place in the guise of Freedom of expression and the possible extradition of fugitives as per Indian law. 

Further, the Prime Minister also stressed that India-US ties enjoy partisan support and the partnership also has the component of security and counter-terrorism co-operation. It is important to note that India has been warning various nations not to overlook terror threats with the prism of domestic political compulsions or as a leverage point. 

He told FT, “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. I don’t think it is appropriate to link a few incidents with diplomatic relations between the two countries.” 

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.

(With Inputs from ANI)

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