‘Equitable treatment’ of US, Canadian allegations not possible: Jaishankar in Rajya Sabha
“Insofar as Canada is concerned, no specific evidence or inputs were provided to us,” the external affairs minister said.
New Delhi: India has instituted an inquiry to look into inputs provided by the US in connection with an alleged plot to kill a Khalistani leader on American soil because the matter has a bearing on national security, external affairs minister S Jaishankar said on Thursday.
Jaishankar, however, ruled out the possibility of “equitable treatment” to allegations by Canada about a potential link between Indian government agents and the killing of another Khalistani leader on the grounds that Ottawa hasn’t provided any specific evidence or inputs.
Speaking in the Rajya Sabha during question hour following a supplementary question asked by CPI(M) MP John Brittas, he said “certain inputs” were given to India by the US as part of bilateral security cooperation. “Those inputs were of concern to us because they related to the nexus of organised crime, trafficking and other matters,” he said.
“So, because it has a bearing on our own national security, it was decided to institute an inquiry into the matter and an inquiry committee has been constituted,” he added.
Jaishankar’s remarks came against the backdrop of US prosecutors alleging in an indictment filed in a federal court in Manhattan that an Indian national, Nikhil Gupta aka N“Insofar as Canada is concerned, no specific evidence or inputs were provided to us.ick, 52, had participated in a foiled plot to assassinate Gurpatwant Singh Pannun in New York City. The indictment further alleged that an Indian government employee who described himself as a “senior field officer” responsible for intelligence had ordered the assassination of Pannun.
Pannun, a leader of the outlawed Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), has already been declared a terrorist by India.
Responding to a query about Canada’s allegation of a potential Indian link to the killing of Khalistani leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in the town of Surrey in June, Jaishankar said: “Insofar as Canada is concerned, no specific evidence or inputs were provided to us. So, the question of equitable treatment to two countries, one of whom has provided inputs and one of whom has not, does not arise.”
In a related development, external affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi told a regular media briefing that US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) director Christopher Wray’s planned visit to India next week should be seen in the context of ongoing security cooperation.
“As you’re aware, we have robust security, cyber-security, counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics cooperation with US agencies. We are also engaged in capacity-building programmes. So, as part of this ongoing bilateral cooperation, a visit by the FBI director in the works,” he said.
Details for Wray’s visit had been worked out with the US side “over the course of the last few months”, Bagchi said, declining to go into specifics of the trip.
Asked if the issue of Pannun will come up during the FBI director’s interactions in India, Bagchi said: “This is part of our ongoing dialogue process. I don’t have a crystal ball, I’m not going get into what may or may not be discussed. At this moment, I have nothing further.”
He also said he had no update on the work being done by the high-level inquiry committee.
Bagchi responded to a question on alleged threats made by Pannun against Indian airlines and the Parliament by saying that New Delhi takes all such matters seriously. He said, “We are caught in a bind here. I don’t want to amplify or give too much credence to such extremists who make threats and get a lot of coverage. But on the other hand, we take this seriously, and in this particular case, I know we have taken up this matter with the US and Canadian authorities.”
He added, “We have flagged concerns to our partners about any threats made by extremists or terrorists against India, Indian diplomats or properties...and we do take it up from time to time. There is ongoing conversation [and] security cooperation. Some of it, we’ve seen results, some of it we haven’t, this will be an ongoing process.”
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