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No government or its employee can be involved in the alleged assassination of another country’s citizen, which is “just an unacceptable red line”, said US Ambassador to India Eric Garcetti in a direct reference to the alleged assasination plot of Khalistani separatist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun.

“Any country, having an active member of their government involved in a second country trying to assassinate one of their citizens. That’s, I think, usually a red line for any country. That’s a basic issue of sovereignty. That’s a basic issue of rights,” Eric Garcetti told ANI in an interview.

“For any of us, just abstractly, that has to be a red line. No government or government employee can be involved in the alleged assassination of one of your own citizens. That’s just an unacceptable red line,” he added.

Garcetti also acknowledged that the two nations are working together in the investigation of the alleged foiled assassination plot against Khalistani separatist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, an India-designated terrorist.

America protects free speech ‘for better or for worse’

Referring to the Khalistani marches and the threats issued by Gurpatwant Pannun, Garcetti said that the American system protects free speech “for better or for worse.” He also made it clear that an American citizen can be convicted or deployed only according to the country’s laws.

Gurpatwant Singh Pannun enjoys dual citizenship in America and Canada. He has repeatedly issued threats against India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“When people do step over the line saying 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 reach the threshold that would have a successful outcome.” Garcetti told ANI in an interview.

“Under our law, for an American citizen to be convicted in an American court or to be deported to have a criminal case in another country, it has to meet our law, and so we’ll continue working. And if anybody ever says something that steps over that line, and I know it’s gotten very close, we will be working together on that,” he added.

Pannun has issued multiple threats to India related to attacks on the Indian Parliament, Air India, and even PM Modi. Talking about the India-US joint investigation into the alleged plot to assassinate Pannun, Garcetti said that the collaboration between the two countries is a testament to the strong India-US relationship. At the same time, he underlined the importance of the ‘issue of rights’ in a case where a country’s citizen or govt employee is involved in the assassination of another country’s citizen.

Who is Nikhil Gupta facing conviction for Pannun’s assassination plot

According to 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. As per the US Justice Department’s claim, Gupta was hired by an Indian government employee to allegedly murder Pannun. However, the attempt was foiled by US authorities.

The US envoy also applauded India’s initiative to set an inquiry commission to look into the matter.

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Published: 31 Mar 2024, 10:28 PM IST

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