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News / Nation & World

India probes criminal-terrorist nexus to protect ties with U.S.

By Sudhi Ranjan Sen, Bloomberg News
Published: November 29, 2023, 8:13am

New Delhi is probing any role of Indian organized criminal groups in an alleged attempt to assassinate a U.S.-based Sikh separatist leader, as the South Asian nation tries to protect its relationship with the U.S. after being prompted by Washington.

India has constituted a high-level committee to investigate inputs shared by the U.S. over a nexus between organized criminals, gun runners, and terrorists, said Arindam Bagchi, spokesperson for India’s External Affairs Ministry. The South Asian country takes such inputs “seriously” and relevant departments are already examining the issue, he said.

The Biden administration had raised concerns with top officials in New Delhi about the possible involvement of Indians in a thwarted plot to kill the Sikh leader living in America. This follows Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau leveling similar allegations against New Delhi.

The multiple accusations of Indian involvement in trying to eliminate Sikh separatist leaders in foreign countries may act as a setback to the Biden administration’s efforts to deepen strategic ties with India as a counterweight to China.

The issue is being treated “with utmost seriousness,” Adrienne Watson, a spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, said in a statement last week. “It has been raised by the U.S. government with the Indian government, including at the senior-most levels,” she said.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has used U.S.-China tensions to project the South Asian nation as an alternative to Beijing, seeking technology and investment from the U.S. and its partners, such as Germany and Japan.