India, once again accused of having ordered a murder against an opponent, undertakes to cooperate

India, once again accused of having ordered a murder against an opponent, undertakes to cooperate

India has pledged to cooperate with the United States, which is pursuing an Indian national suspected of sponsored the assassination plan against a Sikh separatist leader in New York, whilea similar case recently caused a diplomatic incident with Canada.

The US Department of Justice announced, Wednesday November 29, prosecute an Indian national, Nikhil Gupta, for a planned assassination against a Sikh separatist leader in New York, at the instigation of a New Delhi agent.

Reacting to these remarks, the Indian foreign ministry then declared that New Delhi had “formed, on November 18, a high-level commission of inquiry” after being informed by the United States of “connections between criminal organizations, arms traffickers, terrorists and others”. “The Indian government will take necessary action based on the findings of the commission of inquiry”, assured the spokesperson of the ministry, Arindam Bagchi.

This reaction contrasts sharply with India's furious response in September, when Canada incriminated its intelligence service for the murder on its soil, on June 18, of a Sikh leader, Canadian of Indian origin, Hardeep Singh Nijjar . Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suggested the involvement of Indian authorities in this assassination and called “the Indian government to collaborate” for " turn on the light " on the case. India then denounced accusations “absurd”, and a diplomatic crisis between the two countries ensued.

“Rogue behavior”

If India is much more cooperative this time, some observers, such as journalist Shubhajit Roy, fear that this new incident will “tarnishes” its key relationships with Washington. “The depth of its strategic ties with the United States gives it some room to maneuver, but New Delhi has its work cut out for it”, he writes in The Indian Express.

The American Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, warned in September, after the incrimination of India by Canada, that the United States was “extremely vigilant whenever there are allegations of transnational repression”.

He was referring to the repression exercised by authoritarian regimes on their citizens outside their borders, which came to light during the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018.

These events undermine the efforts of Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, recent host of the G20, to restore his image on the international scene. “This creates greater distrust of Modi”, declared to Agence France-Presse (AFP) Hartosh Singh Bal, editor-in-chief of the magazine The Caravan, for whom the sharing of intelligence with New Delhi will suffer. “India is accused of thuggish behavior that will make its allies reluctant to trust leaders willing to do so”He says.

Potentially damaging on the international stage

According to the indictment released by the US Department of Justice, an agent of the Indian government allegedly recruited Nikhil Gupta, involved in drug and arms trafficking, to assassinate " the victim ", in exchange for the dropping of criminal charges against him. Mr. Gupta, arrested on June 30 in the Czech Republic, was charged with ordering a murder, “in connection with his participation in a foiled plot to assassinate a United States citizen” of Indian origin in New York.

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If the ministry did not mention the alleged target by name, le Financial Times identified her as Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, founding lawyer of the American organization Sikhs for Justice which demands an independent Sikh state in northern India. Referred to as "terrorist" by New Delhi in 2020, he is wanted for “terrorism and sedition”.

“US officials must now grapple with the possibility that one of their most important strategic partners may have attempted an extrajudicial operation on US soil”, Michael Kugelman, director of the South Asia Institute at the Wilson Center, told AFP. “It’s a disturbing realization, which will continue. » For Mr. Kugelman, unlike Canada which “made his allegations public”, the United States, on the other hand, “handled them silently and privately”. In addition, “Canada's allegations were not based on solid evidence, while in the United States there is an unsealed indictment containing many details”, he reports.

Potentially damaging for Narendra Modi on the international scene, the situation is quite different in India, where the Sikh independence movement is accused of the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1984 and a bombing of an airliner . These events could, on the contrary, galvanize supporters of the Hindu nationalist prime minister, who will seek a new term in 2024.

The World with AFP

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