US aims to prevent assassination plot from derailing India ties

December 02, 2023

WASHINGTON: On issues from human rights to Ukraine, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi´s record has raised alarm bells in Washington, but each time US officials decided the concerns should not derail the relationship.

Modi now faces his biggest risk yet after US prosecutors alleged that an Indian government official directed an assassination attempt on US soil -- but so far, President Joe Biden´s administration is again hoping to keep tensions under wraps.

President Joe Biden and Indian prime minister Narendra Modi talk during an arrival ceremony at the White House on June 22, 2023 in Washington, DC. — AFP

Two months after Canada alleged New Delhi´s involvement in the killing of one of its citizens near Vancouver, the US Justice Department unveiled charges against an Indian man -- arrested in the Czech Republic on a US extradition request -- and alleged that an Indian official orchestrated the foiled plot.

In both cases, the targets were radical Sikh separatists promoting an independent state for their faith in the northern Indian state Punjab, where New Delhi crushed an insurgency three decades ago.

US presidents since the 1990s have sought a deeper partnership with India, saying the world´s two largest democracies share common values. But the new charges put India in the same league as Russia, Iran and Saudi Arabia which have faced US opprobrium for alleged transnational attacks.