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View: India- US ties are Teflon coated, Khalistani Pannun is side show

Dec 01, 2023 10:35 PM IST

Both India and US are natural allies and strategic partners. Both the countries know each other very well and can talk on anything they want to.

The United States has charged an Indian national for allegedly being involved in a conspiracy to kill designated terrorist and Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) founder Gurpatwant Singh Pannun on American soil. Terming the case against Indian national Nikhil Gupta as a ‘matter of concern’, the ministry of external affairs has said that a follow-up action will be taken on the findings of an inquiry committee looking into the matter.

A file photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with US President Joe Biden at Rajghat on the final day of the G20 Summit, in New Delhi (PTI file)
A file photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with US President Joe Biden at Rajghat on the final day of the G20 Summit, in New Delhi (PTI file)

The development comes months after Canada's prime minister Justin Trudeau had alleged potential link between Indian agents and the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in the Canadian town of Surrey in British Columbia on June 18.

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What does the present controversy mean for the relations between India and the US?

When the US Department of Justice filed an indictment in the court in Manhattan, the Indian government took notice of it and decided to set up a high-level committee under the guidance of National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.

The charges were in black and white and there is a chargesheet in the case. The government which does not have a policy of conducting black operations outside the country or anywhere, decided to take notice of what the charges were and look if anything has gone wrong.

As far as Canada is concerned, rather than filing a proper chargesheet or case, its prime minister Justin Trudeau played a political game. On September 18, he decided to go to the Canadian parliament first and accuse India of orchestrating the assassination of Nijjar. The two cases are totally different.

In the first case there is a valid chargesheet the Indian government is looking into it. The second case is an allegation. In the indictment, there is a chain of thought that goes into saying that this person was involved in the killing of Nijjar. It is a heresay. It should be contested in the court in New York and at the same time the Indian government is going to look into it. The two sides will come to a reason as to what should be done about it.

Despite this controversy around the claims of Indian government being allegedly involved in some sort of political assassination, the fact is that both India and US are natural allies and strategic partners. Both the countries know each other very well and can talk on anything they want to.

After this whole plot was unearthed in June, US President Joe Biden had come to India for G20. Last month, 2+2 dialogue was held in New Delhi. The whole orchestration is being carried out to scuttle the QUAD summit that is set to take place on January 27 after Biden attends the Republic Day parade as the chief guest.

A committee has been set up that will look into the matter. There is a legal process. On the other hand, Canada has still not sent us anything that links us or anybody to the killing of Khalistani terrorist of Bhindranwale Tiger Force named Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

Last August, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) raided the house of former US president Donald Trump in Florida. In January this year, the FBI raided the house of the serving president. The Department of Justice there serves in its own way. This is a legal process and has nothing to do with bilateral India-US ties.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Author of Indian Mujahideen: The Enemy Within (2011, Hachette) and Himalayan Face-off: Chinese Assertion and Indian Riposte (2014, Hachette). Awarded K Subrahmanyam Prize for Strategic Studies in 2015 by Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (MP-IDSA) and the 2011 Ben Gurion Prize by Israel.

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