India asks U.S. to probe pro-Khalistani groups

Both sides review ongoing cooperation in counter-terrorism and security domains; they also discuss the need to curb illegal immigration, human trafficking, money laundering

February 28, 2024 09:48 pm | Updated 11:29 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

India-U.S. Senior Officials’ Homeland Security Dialogue (HSD) was held in New Delhi on February 28.

India-U.S. Senior Officials’ Homeland Security Dialogue (HSD) was held in New Delhi on February 28. | Photo Credit: X - PIBHomeAffairs

India raised its demand that pro-Khalistani outfits in the U.S. be investigated for instigating violence against India, as senior officials met for the India-U.S. Homeland Security Dialogue (HSD) on Wednesday, that reviewed ongoing cooperation in counter-terrorism and security. The two sides also focused on curbing the rampant increase in narcotics trafficking, particularly of the drug Fentanyl, that the U.S. has been grappling with.

“During the dialogue, both sides reviewed ongoing cooperation in counter-terrorism and security domains, which has been a key pillar of the India-U.S. strategic partnership. In this context, they discussed steps that can be taken to bolster bilateral efforts to combat terrorism and violent extremism, drug trafficking, organised crime and ensure transportation security,” a Home Ministry statement issued after the talks said. The Indian delegation was led by Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla and the U.S. delegation was led by Kristie Canegallo, Acting Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Also read | We expect action against attackers of Indian missions in London, San Francisco: Jaishankar

According to the statement, the two sides also spoke about the need to curb illegal immigration and human trafficking, money laundering, cybercrimes, and misuse of the cyber domain for illegal activities, including terror financing.

The official statements made no mention of the ongoing investigation in the U.S. over the “assassin for hire” case where U.S. agencies have accused an Indian national purportedly working for a senior Indian security official to organise the assassination of Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) chief and pro-Khalistan separatist U.S. national Gurpatwant Singh Pannun. The Ministry of External Affairs had announced in November that a high-level panel would investigate the allegations, but there has been no further development announced, although both sides are believed to be in touch to discuss the case regularly. 

Jaishankar’s stand

India’s counter demand from the U.S. to curb separatist groups operating in the U.S., including those responsible for recent attacks on Indian missions did come up during the HSD talks, it is learnt. On Monday, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar had said that countries that “do not investigate and take action” against those attacking Indian embassies risk their own reputation, naming U.S., Canada, Australia and the U.K.

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“We expect the culprits in the attack in our consulate in San Francisco to be brought to book; we expect action against people who stormed into our high commission in London; and we expect action against people who threatened our diplomats [in Canada],” Mr. Jaishankar said at a summit organised by TV9 Network.

Also read | NIA conducts raids in Punjab and Rajasthan in terrorist-organised criminal syndicates nexus case

The Homeland Security Dialogue was first held in 2011, and after a gap of some years was re-established in 2021 by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Indian Embassy in Washington to discuss issues such “as cybersecurity, emerging technology and addressing violent extremism”. 

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