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Nikhil Gupta Extradition & US Advisor's Visit Just Another Ploy to Pressure India for Concessions?

© Photo : Social MediaExternal Affairs Minister S Jaishankar with US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar with US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan - Sputnik India, 1920, 17.06.2024
India's special relationship with Russia has raised concerns among Western nations, with the latter possibly exerting covert pressure on New Delhi regarding specific issues, according to experts.
Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval engaged in comprehensive discussions on Monday with US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan during his visit to Delhi for the second gathering of the Critical and Emerging Technologies (iCET) initiative.
Meanwhile, Nikhil Gupta, an Indian national suspected by the US of involvement in an attempted assassination on Gurpatwant Singh Pannun on US soil and arrested in the Czech Republic last year, has been extradited to America, according to media reports on Sunday. Gupta is set to appear before a federal court in New York on Monday.
Likewise, Gupta's extradition came shortly before US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan's visit to New Delhi for the annual iCET dialogue. Sullivan was set to address the matter with his Indian counterpart, Ajit Doval.

"It's reasonable to anticipate that the US might use these developments to exert pressure on India, aiming to secure more favourable terms or greater concessions in their strategic relations," Ash Narain Roy, director of the Institute of Social Sciences, told Sputnik India.

Roy argued that the "US perceives India to be somewhat vulnerable on these matters, hence applying pressure to achieve concessions". This tactic could be observed similarly to instances involving Russia or within the BRICS framework, according to him.

"India's unique position with Moscow has been a point of concern for the West, potentially serving as covert pressure on India regarding certain matters. There are instances where India desires to maintain its special relationship, yet avoids ignoring the West, reflecting its historically nuanced and non-aligned stance," Roy noted.

However, the reasons behind these developments remain unclear, despite the United States had been attempting to extradite Nikhil Gupta from Czech Republic prior to this moment, Major General (Dr) S. B. Asthana (retd.), international strategic and military analyst, told Sputnik India. It's possible that this effort has now "come to fruition", he believes.

Perspectives on Developments: Routine or Strain in Indo-US Ties?

"[The] national security advisor of the USA would likely gain more information after interrogating or investigating Nikhil Gupta. However, amidst accusations that Indian agents may have been involved in a suspected assassination attempt linked to an attempted murder of Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, the US asserts having sufficient evidence, though none has been shared with the Indian government yet", Asthana explained.

The intended victim was Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a dual US-Canadian citizen and New York-based lawyer in his early 50s. Pannun serves as the legal counsel and spokesperson for Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), a US-based separatist group that is under ban in India since 2019.
Following the allegation, Delhi acknowledged that Pannun is "wanted for violating the law", but denied any involvement in the assassination plot.

Once the US completes its investigation involving their suspect, Nikhil Gupta, and shares any evidence with India, "the Indian government will thoroughly review it and respond accordingly", the retired general expects.

This situation "coincides with a transitional phase in India's governance, as a new administration seeks to define or redefine strategic relationships", Ash Narain Roy noted.

"While some view these developments as routine with no impact on important meetings or legal processes, others see them as a source of strain in Indo-US ties, which the Indian government initially believed it could manage but continues to face", he asserted.

Meanwhile, it is uncertain whether this will influence broader Indo-US strategic relations, as varied perspectives on these unfolding events are presented, the expert concluded.
Demonstrators gather in support of Khalistan, an advocated independent Sikh homeland, during a Sikh rally outside the Consulate General of India, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on September 25, 2023, following the murder of Sikh separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar.  - Sputnik India, 1920, 08.06.2024
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