India follows rule of law, but does the West follow the same?
Personal assurance given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during an interview with a UK based daily Financial Times, should be enough to convince the US administration that India is not trying to brush aside allegation of its official’s involvement in the foiled attempt to kill Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, rather it is ready to investigate it with utmost sincerity
With the US administration making the case of Gur Patwant Singh Pannun, a US citizen who is designated as a terrorist in India, an issue of national prestige and US President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken pursuing the case at personal level, India has for the first time intervened at the highest level, assuring the international community that India follows rule of law.
Prime Minister Modi is reported to have told the UK daily that, "If someone gives us any information, we would definitely look into it… If a citizen of ours has done anything good or bad, we are ready to look into it."
The US has indirectly alleged India’s hand in the attempt to kill an American citizen, who happens to be a protagonist of Khalistan. Though a minuscule number of Sikhs and misguided youths aided by their financers and instigators based in the US and Canada, operate from the land of Punjab, there is no such visible movement for the so-called Khalistan existing in the Indian Sikh majority state.
There is a full-fledged democratically elected State Government flourishing in the Indian State of Punjab. That Sikhism is thriving in Punjab and in the rest of India, is a universally accepted reality. The US administration and international community must realise this ground truth and must not allow their land to become a fertile ground for Khalistan movement. Any country facilitating such anti-India gangs on their soil cannot have normal relations with the Indian State.
Earlier External Affairs Minister Dr S. Jaishankar had responded to US complaints and assured to look into the case, by setting up a high-level committee, but the US side continues to browbeat the Indian government with threats of sanctions issued by the USCIRF (US commission on International religious freedom). The USCIRF has alleged discriminatory policies and actions against religious minorities in India and recommended strong actions against India.
India has publicly refuted such baseless claims of attempts to eliminate a US citizen on American soil, but at the same time has declared to investigate the case at the highest level. Though, there has been several incidents of purported US citizens, making open terror threat against India, Indian authorities and Indian facilities have actually been a target of violent attacks and Indian public representatives threatened with dire consequences, the US administration and law and order agencies have turned a blind eye to such nefarious developments on its soil. This exposes the double standard being adopted by the US administration on the issue of rule of law and ugly hand of terrorism being allowed to flourish and ignored by American leaders.
The sinister campaign being orchestrated against India from US soil by Indian fugitives, adopted as US citizens by the US administration, with a nefarious design to dismember the country, claimed by US administration as it’s closest strategic partner and dear friend appears very intriguing.
At a time when India has assured the US administration that it is investigating the case, the use of strong arms tactics to silence the Indian government by an US agency CIRF, smacks of ill will against India among elements in the US administration. Even before the US side has completed the inquiry on the allegations against India, the US administration seems to be pronouncing judgements and issuing threats against India.
During his September G-20 summit visit to New Delhi, President Biden is reported to have himself raised the issue during his meeting with PM Narendra Modi. Surprisingly, President Biden or Secretary Blinken has not yet taken note of the open threat issued by Gurpatwant Singh Pannun to attack Indian Parliament or Indian air carriers. As a true friend and closest strategic partner of India, the US side was expected to show seriousness against anti-India elements operating in the guise of US citizens.
If the US citizens are given freehand to act against the unity and integrity of India, the Indian leaders are certainly not going to ignore such developments. Indian authorities must expose the US bid to malign India and allow its citizens to connive against the integrity of India.
At a time when US administration is expected to strengthen India’s hands on international fora in view of the need of the two countries to appear united and promote its four nation Indo-pacific alliance of QUAD, being promoted to take on the China challenge in the South China Sea, such anti-India policies by the US administration will not be helpful.
In fact, it can cast a shadow on deepening India US strategic relations, which has been described as defining partnership of the 21st century by the Ex-US president Barack Obama. However, such attempts by the US side to humiliate the Indian government in the eyes of the international community, would backfire and impact on the cordial bilateral relations, which has enabled the two countries to overturn the strained defence relations and become a strong defence partner.
With India emerging as a prominent market for US defence products and technology and the US as a reliable defence partner, the US side must nurture this by showing sensitivity to India’s concerns relating to its integrity and sovereignty.
The US must realize that gone are the days when the US administration used to describe anti-India terrorists operating from and aided by the Pakistani State as freedom fighters. India has been taking strong exception to the US policy of arming Pakistani armed forces against India, but of late US administration appeared to have changed its track and befriend India, which has emerged as a strong voice in international fora on its own strength. As a fifth largest economy and major military power India is certainly not going to allow any other power on earth to cast an evil eye on the well-being of the country.
***The writer is a senior journalist and strategic affairs analyst; views expressed here are his own