NEW DELHI: US ambassador to India Eric Garcetti on Tuesday met home minister Amit Shah at the latter’s office, during which they discussed ways to enhance bilateral cooperation in several domains, including counter-terrorism, drug trafficking and national security.
The deliberations, Shah tweeted later, were part of the commitment to build upon the positive outcomes of Prime Minister’s Narendra Modi’s recent visit to the US.
While further details of the deliberations, particularly regarding Indo-US cooperation on counter-terrorism, were not available, the meeting assumes significance as it comes against the backdrop of two attacks by pro-Khalistan activists on the Indian consulate in San Francisco, US, over the past three months as well as a recent video featuring designated terrorist and Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun outside the UN headquarters in New York.
Pannun was seen in the latest video — released a day after rumours of his having met with a fatal accident surfaced on social media — calling for referendum for a separate state of Khalistan and blaming Indian diplomats for the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Canada and threatening “to hold them accountable”.
Standing in front of the UN headquarters, Pannun declared that he was available in New York and anybody could come and meet him. Around the same time ‘kill’ posters linking Indian diplomats based in US, Canada and UK to Nijjar’s death, along with their photographs, had surfaced. Pannun had told TOI that he was behind the posters.
Pannun is a most-wanted terrorist, with the NIA having declared a Rs 20 lakh reward for anyone who shares information leading to his arrest.
There was an attempt at arson by alleged Khalistan supporters at the San Francisco consulate premises on July 2, 2023; this followed an attempt by Khalistanis to vandalise the same premises on March 20, 2023.