Pannun case: Indo-US ties won’t be derailed, says PM Modi in first reaction
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asserted that diplomatic ties between India and the United States would not be derailed by a “few incidents” and New Delhi will consider any information Washington shares on allegations of a plot to assassinate a Sikh separatist in New York.
In an interview with British daily The Financial Times, he reiterated India’s commitment to the rule of law. “It was inappropriate to ‘link a few incidents’ with diplomatic relations between India and the US.”
In his first comment on the controversy, PM Modi made these remarks about allegations that an Indian official ordered a hit on Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a dual US-Canadian citizen and member of a US-based Sikh separatist group.
The PM said if any Indian citizen does “anything good or bad”, New Delhi is ready to look into it.
To probe the matter, India’s External Affairs Ministry has formed a committee to investigate allegations made in charges filed against Nikhil Gupta, an Indian national, accused of trying to hire a hitman to kill Pannun in New York.
On the impact on Indo-US ties, PM 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…”
Making a broader point, he said, “We need to accept the fact that we are living in the era of multilateralism. The world is interconnected as well as interdependent. This reality compels us to recognize that absolute agreement on all matters cannot be a prerequisite for collaboration.”
New Delhi is “deeply concerned” about foreign-based extremist groups allegedly working against India. “These elements, under the guise of freedom of expression, have engaged in intimidation and incited violence,” he said.
In September, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his country was probing “credible allegations” that India was behind the killing of another Sikh separatist, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, on June 18 in British Columbia. New Delhi promptly rejected these claims as “absurd” and, in retaliation, ordered 41 Canadian diplomats to leave India.