In a recent interview with The Financial Times, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed, for the first time, the United States’ claims of an Indian national’s alleged role in a plot to murder Khalistani terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun. Nikhil Gupta, a 52-year-old Indian national, was charged by US federal prosecutors on November 29 in connection with the foiled plot.
During the interview, PM Modi expressed the government’s commitment to investigating any evidence provided by the US. He underscored that a few incidents would not derail the relations between India and the US. Gupta, according to US authorities, colluded with an employee of an Indian government agency in the alleged murder-for-hire plot targeting Pannun.
Security and counter-terrorism cooperation were highlighted by PM Modi as crucial components of the bilateral ties between India and the US. He emphasized the deep concern about the activities of extremist groups operating overseas, engaging in intimidation and inciting violence under the guise of freedom of expression.
“I don’t think it is appropriate to link a few incidents with diplomatic relations between the two countries,” PM Modi stated, emphasizing the strong bipartisan support for strengthening the relationship, indicating a mature and stable partnership.
Last month, The Financial Times reported, citing unnamed officials, that the US had thwarted a conspiracy to assassinate Pannun on American soil. The report also suggested that the US had issued a warning to India regarding concerns of its involvement in the alleged plot.
Nikhil Gupta faces charges of murder-for-hire and conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire, with potential maximum sentences of 10 years in prison for each charge. The US prosecutors allege that Gupta agreed to pay an assassin $100,000 to kill Pannun in New York City. Gupta was arrested in the Czech Republic on June 30, pursuant to the bilateral extradition treaty between the US and the Czech Republic.
As the situation unfolds, PM Modi’s comments reflect a diplomatic stance, emphasizing the importance of maintaining robust ties between India and the US despite the recent allegations and legal proceedings. The investigation and legal process will likely continue to evolve, shedding light on the complexities surrounding this international incident.
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