Biden administration ‘satisfied’ with India’s accountability in Pannun case: US envoy Garcetti

Washington, May 10: The United States is “satisfied” with the accountability it has demanded from India in connection with the alleged involvement of Indian officials in the foiled assassination plot of Khalistani terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun on American soil, said US Ambassador to India Eric Garcetti. Notably, the Pannun case has once again hit the headlines after a report by the Washington Post named an Indian intelligence official allegedly involved in the murder plot.
“When I was referring to a relationship that might have bumps along the road, this would be potentially the first big fight in a relationship,” Garcetti said in response to a question at an event organised on Thursday by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), a top American think-tank. “And so far, knock on wood, I would say the administration is satisfied with the accountability that we’ve demanded on this, because this is a red line for America, for our citizens.”
Garcetti further asserted that there has to be accountability if state actors are involved in an indictment. “We expect that not only from our side, but we expect India to have that accountability…So, there’s been a commission of inquiry that India has brought together and that we expect, while we do the criminal case that is about American justice, that there need to be consequences and shared information,” he said.
“So far, one of the most difficult things you can do as an ambassador in diplomacy, I have been satisfied with what they have done. I think the administration is, but we have many steps still to go,” Garcetti added.
Not America’s responsibility to fix India: Garcetti
Garcetti was speaking along with former US Trade Representative Michael Froman, who said Prime Minister Narendra Modi is about to be re-elected, which everyone is reassuming. Meanwhile, responding to a question on concerns being raised in certain quarters in the US about the human rights situation in India, Garcetti said this is not America’s responsibility.
“It is not America’s responsibility to fix India. It is America’s responsibility to engage with India, to promote our interests, and also to reflect our values… I can tell you it’s very strong. I think people from the outside say, they want a strategic relationship with India, so everybody’s looking the other way when it comes to human rights issues and stuff. It’s actually not true,” he added.
The US envoy further asserted that India was ahead of some issues than the US, like transgender rights. He also said that America’s responsibility is here to support and help India in any way if asked. “You probably haven’t heard the narrative, like, that India is more advanced than us on human rights. But when it comes to transgender rights, they are,” he said.
Developments in the Pannun case
The report by the Washington Post claimed that an officer in India’s spy wing, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) had relayed final instructions to a “hired hit team” to carrying out the assassination of the Khalistani separatist, who has threatened numerous attacks against India. As soon as the would-be assassins could confirm that Pannun was home, “it would be a go-ahead from us”, it added.
The External Affairs Ministry on Tuesday rejected the US media report. It dubbed the report “unwarranted and unsubstantiated imputations on a serious matter” at a time when New Delhi is investigating the issue. “Speculative and irresponsible comments on it are not helpful,” foreign ministry spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal said in a statement.
The White House and the US State Department have said the foiled murder plot is being taken seriously and expected accountability from India, which has launched its own investigations after an Indian national was indicted last year. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller on Monday said India should take the allegations of its involvement very seriously and investigate.
Russia accuses US of interfering in Indian elections
Meanwhile, Russia rubbished US allegations of India’s involvement in the case, asking why Washington has not been able to provide any reliable evidence of the involvement of Indian citizens and accusing it of “disrespecting” India as a state. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova called the accusations unfounded and accused the US of having a “neocolonial mentality”.
“Regular unfounded accusations by the United States against New Delhi (we see that they groundlessly accuse not only India but also many other states) of violating religious freedoms are a reflection of the United States’ misunderstanding of the national mentality, the historical context of the development of the Indian state and disrespect for India as a state. I am sure that this also comes from the neo-colonial mentality, the mentality of the colonial period, the period of the slave trade, and imperialism,” she added.
She termed the allegations as a ploy to interfere in India’s ongoing Lok Sabha elections to undermine the internal political situation and complicate the parliamentary elections. “The Washington Post, it seems to me, should use the term “repressive regime” and everything you quoted in relation to Washington. It is difficult to imagine a more repressive regime than Washington, both in domestic and international affairs,” she also said. (Agencies)

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