Amid Pannun plot probe, EAM says national security interests involved | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Amid Pannun plot probe, EAM says national security interests involved

By, New Delhi
Apr 02, 2024 05:22 AM IST

India, Jaishankar said, is conducting a probe “because we believe our own national security interests are involved in that investigation”

India is conducting an investigation into information related to the alleged plot to kill Khalistan proponent Gurpatwant Singh Pannun because it involves the country’s national security interests, external affairs minister S Jaishankar said on Monday.

External affairs minister S Jaishankar declined to provide details about the investigation (ANI)
External affairs minister S Jaishankar declined to provide details about the investigation (ANI)

Jaishankar declined to provide details about the investigation while responding to a question at a media briefing on US ambassador Eric Garcetti’s contention that the alleged involvement of an Indian government official in the assassination plot had crossed a “red line”.

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“The US ambassador, as an ambassador, obviously will say what he thinks is the thinking or the position of his government. I will say what is the position of my government, and the position of my government is that in this particular case, there (has) been certain information which has been provided to us which we are investigating,” he told the briefing at the Bharatiya Janata Party headquarters.

Jaishankar was briefing the media on the issue of Katchatheevu island when he was asked about comments made during an interview by Garcetti, who said the involvement of a government official in an assassination in a foreign country would be “a red line for any country”.

India, he said, is conducting a probe “because we believe our own national security interests are involved in that investigation”. “As and when we have something to say on that investigation, we would be very glad to speak about it,” he added. “At this point of time, beyond the fact that there is an investigation going on, we have nothing more to say.”

An indictment filed by US prosecutors in a Manhattan court last November alleged that Indian national Nikhil Gupta, acting on the instructions of an unnamed Indian official, was involved in a plot to kill Pannun on American soil.

Gupta is currently in jail in the Czech Republic, where the justice minister is examining his challenge to a court ruling that he can be extradited to the US. Pannun has already been declared a terrorist by India, which has set up a high-level inquiry committee to investigate the matter.

In an interview with ANI, Garcetti said the involvement of the government employee of any country in a plot to kill a foreign citizen would amount to crossing the “red line”.

“For any of us, just abstractly, that has to be a red line. No government or government employee can be involved in the alleged assassination of one of your own citizens. That’s just an unacceptable red line,” Garcetti said.

“Any country, having an active member of their government involved in a second country trying to assassinate one of their citizens, that’s...usually a red line for any country. That’s a basic issue of sovereignty. That’s a basic issue of rights,” he said.

Garcetti said India and the US are working together to investigate the alleged plot targeting Pannun. In the context of threats made by Pannun against Indian interests, Garcetti said the US system protects free speech “for better or for worse” and that an American citizen can be convicted or deported only under the country’s laws.

In response to another question on Indian nationals being tricked into taking up jobs in the Russian army and being forced to fight in the Ukraine conflict, Jaishankar said: “We have taken it up very, very strongly with the Russian government and we are trying to get all these people back to India safely.”

Two Indian nationals have been killed on the front lines of the Ukraine war in recent weeks and the external affairs ministry has been approached by about two dozen Indian nationals seeking to be discharged from their jobs with the Russian army.

Jaishankar also said some Indians had gone back to Ukraine to study or work. “There are some people who have chosen to go back. Again, I want to say we had given advisories asking people not to put themselves at risk. That is our duty as a government, but there are people who have chosen to go back,” he said.

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