Counterterrorism, illegal immigration in focus at India-US dialogue | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Counterterrorism, illegal immigration in focus at India-US dialogue

Feb 28, 2024 08:36 PM IST

People familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity that discussions focused on US efforts to restrict access to fentanyl

New Delhi: Cooperation in counterterrorism, narcotics trafficking and illegal immigration figured in India-US senior officials’ homeland security dialogue on Wednesday, with the two sides signing a memorandum of cooperation on law enforcement training.

India-US senior officials’ homeland security dialogue was held in New Delhi on Wednesday (Twitter/@PIB_India)
India-US senior officials’ homeland security dialogue was held in New Delhi on Wednesday (Twitter/@PIB_India)

The two sides reviewed ongoing work in counter-terrorism and security, which a readout from the Union home ministry described as a “key pillar” of the bilateral strategic partnership. They discussed steps that can be taken to bolster bilateral efforts to combat terror, violent extremism, drug trafficking and organised crime.

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The dialogue concluded with signing a memorandum of cooperation on law enforcement training between the US Federal Law Enforcement Training Centre and India’s Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy.

People familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity that discussions focused on US efforts to restrict access to fentanyl, the powerful synthetic opioid linked to a sharp rise in drug overdose deaths in the United States.

Following the launch last month of a US-China counter-narcotics working group to curb the production and trade of fentanyl, Washington is looking to work with other key partners to cut off access to illegal supplies of the opioid for foreign drug cartels.

The people said Mexican drug cartels could turn to India, with its extensive pharmaceutical industry, as a possible source of fentanyl, and cooperation could look at joint monitoring of the supply of the lab-made drug. They acknowledged that India already has a good monitoring system, and the joint work will seek to build on this. In this context, the two sides are looking to finalise a memorandum of cooperation on countering narcotics trafficking.

During the dialogue, the two sides looked at ways to speed up the tackling of illegal migration, especially in the context of Mexico, Salvador and India emerging as the top three source countries for such migrants, the people said. One of the measures being looked at to tackle this issue is sharing biometric information since many illegal migrants get rid of their travel documents, the people said.

The issue of handling the cases of all illegal migrants, including detention and deportation, within 30 days also figured in the talks, the people said. At the same time, the two sides have also taken steps to facilitate travel by holders of visas such the H-1B and their families, the people said.

The Indian readout said the two sides reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening people-to-people ties by taking steps to enable safe and legal migration and to counter illegal migration and human trafficking.

Cyber-security was another important element of the dialogue, especially measures to counter phishing attacks and demands for cyber ransom from private companies and to exchange information on the activities of criminal gangs, the people said. The Indian readout said the two sides discussed ways to counter money laundering, cyber-crimes and misuse of the cyber domain for illegal activities, including terror financing.

The issue of Nikhil Gupta, the Indian national named in a US indictment over an alleged plot to kill Khalistani leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun on American soil, didn’t figure in the dialogue. Gupta was detained in the Czech Republic last June and has challenged a Czech court’s order clearing his extradition to the US.

The US indictment alleged that an Indian government employee ordered the assassination of Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) leader Pannun in New York. The SFJ has been outlawed by India and Pannun was declared a terrorist.

The Indian side at the dialogue was led by home secretary Ajay Bhalla, and the US delegation was headed by Kristie Canegallo, acting deputy secretary in the department of homeland security. They reiterated their interest in consolidating collaboration between law enforcement agencies through exchange of information, capacity building, technical assistance and regular meetings of sub-groups set up under the India-US Homeland Security Dialogue.

Both sides agreed to hold the next round of the senior officials’ dialogue in Washington.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Rezaul H Laskar is the Foreign Affairs Editor at Hindustan Times. His interests include movies and music.

  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Neeraj Chauhan, senior associate editor with the National Political Bureau of Hindustan Times, writes on security, terrorism, corruption, laundering, black money, narcotics, and related policy matters while covering MHA, ED, CBI, NIA, IB, CVC, NHRC, CAG, Income Tax department, etc.

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