Ready to examine any information on plot to kill Pannun in US: PM Modi

Pannun has been under the NIA lens since 2019 when the anti-terror agency registered its first case against him

New Delhi: Breaking his silence on the Sikh separatist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun case that has become an irritant in India and the United States ties, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that India is ready to look into any information provided to it regarding the actions of any of its citizens and that the country is committed to the rule of law. Mr Modi also expressed concerns about the extremist activities of pro-Khalistan elements abroad who, “under the guise of freedom of expression, have engaged in intimidation and incited violence”.

In an interview with the London-based newspaper Financial Times, the Prime Minister was quoted saying, “If someone gives us any information, we will definitely look into it. 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.”

Pointing out that India has always been extremely concerned about “certain extremist” groups based overseas, Mr Modi was further quoted as saying, "These elements, under the guise of freedom of expression, have engaged in intimidation and incited violence."

The Prime Minister also sought to dispel any notion that the matter could damage India-US ties. "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 have been key components of our partnership... (I) don't think it is appropriate to link a few incidents with diplomatic relations between the two countries," Mr Modi was quoted as saying.

India has already set up an inquiry committee to investigate certain inputs provided by the US concerning an alleged plot to kill US citizen Pannun on American soil after the US said that two Indian citizens are alleged to be part of the conspiracy, including an Indian government employee who allegedly directed the plot.

The Indian government employee is reported to have described himself as a "senior field officer" who claimed to have served earlier in India's CRPF. In the alleged plot, the Indian government employee is alleged to have directed another Indian national, Nikhil Gupta, who was arrested by Czech authorities in June this year.

Besides the US, Canada had also accused India of involvement in the murder of another pro-Khalistan extremist Hardip Singh Nijjar in June this year.

Pannun, who reportedly is both a US and Canadian citizen, has been hurling threats against airline Air India as well as against Parliament in the latest of his frequent anti-Indian terror threats.

New Delhi had earlier this month said that it is taking the threats issued against India by Pannun seriously and has taken up the matter with both the US and Canada. It added that Pannun is wanted by Indian agencies.

Recently, external affairs minister S. Jaishankar told Parliament that “as far as the US is concerned, certain inputs were given to us as part of our security cooperation with the United States... (and that) an enquiry committee has been constituted." He added that “in so far as Canada is concerned, no specific evidence or inputs were provided to us.”

In a recent reaction, India said that the United States court proceedings linking Mr Gupta with an Indian government official in an alleged plot to murder Pannun are a matter of concern for India and that it is against government policy to carry out such plots or killings.

New Delhi added, "The nexus between organised crime, trafficking, gunrunning and extremists at an international level is also a serious issue for law enforcement agencies to consider. It is precisely for this reason that a high-level inquiry committee has been constituted. We will obviously be guided by its results."

Just recently, United States principal deputy national security adviser Jonathan Finer, in his meetings in New Delhi, including with national security advisor Ajit Doval and Mr Jaishankar, raised the Pannun issue with India.

FBI director Christopher Wray is also believed to have raised the issue during his visit to India last week.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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