US Ambassador’s Red Line Remark: India Investigating, Says EAM Jaishankar

Foreign Affairs

New Delhi: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said April 1 that India has been investigating the alleged assassination plot of Khalistani terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun on the basis of “certain information” provided by the United States.

Jaishankar was reacting to the ‘red line’ comment made by US Ambassador Eric Garcetti on the issue.

“The US ambassador, as an ambassador, will say what he thinks is the position of his government. The position of my government is that in this particular case, there has been certain information provided to us that we are investigating, Jaishankar said while addressing a press conference in the national capital.

In an interview with a news agency, Garcetti acknowledged that India and the United States are working together in the investigation of the alleged foiled assassination plot against Khalistani terrorist Pannun.

The US Ambassador to India said that a ‘red line’ should not be crossed between the two countries. “When people do step over the line, they say something will be bombed, as opposed to saying somebody shouldn’t fly. The United States freedom of speech, we want success for anybody if there’s a criminal accusation to actually reach the threshold that would have a successful outcome,” Garcetti said.

He said no government employee of any country can be involved in an assassination plot of a foreign citizen. “I think that’s absolutely critical. For any of us, just abstractly, that has to be a red line. No government official 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.

Gurpatwant Singh Pannun is an India-designated terrorist who holds American and Canadian citizenship. He has repeatedly issued threats against India. Last year, Pannun threatened that Air India would not be allowed to operate on November 19. Following this, he also threatened an attack on the Indian Parliament on the anniversary of the Parliament attack on December 13.

As per the US Justice Department indictment, an Indian national, Nikhil Gupta, who is currently in custody, has been charged with the murder-for-hire of Pannun. The US Justice Department had claimed that an Indian government employee, who was not identified in the indictment filed, had recruited Gupta to hire a hitman to allegedly assassinate Pannun, which was foiled by US authorities.

The US envoy also appreciated that India set an inquiry commission to look into the matter. “I was very pleased that India put together this commission of inquiry, put senior people who are experienced in law enforcement on that, and that they have been digging in on this side domestically to uncover any evidence that would show a murder for hire plot that included anybody who was from the Indian government,” he said.

“I think, strongly, but so far, everything that’s been asked of the Indian government has been done. And I would say vice versa. Whenever there is accusations the other direction, we take that incredibly seriously,” Garcetti added.

In December last year, US Principal Deputy National Security Advisor Jon Finer acknowledged India’s establishment of a Committee of Enquiry to investigate the plot to allegedly kill Pannun in the US.