India-US to engage in homeland security talks on February 28; counter terrorism among key agenda

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New Delhi: India and the United States are likely to conduct a significant dialogue on homeland security, focusing on topics such as counterterrorism, concerns related to Sikh radicals, cybersecurity, and aviation security, among other matters.

Sources familiar with the matter indicate that discussions will be led by Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla and his counterparts from the United States in the national capital. The anticipated topics for discussion are cooperation in counterterrorism, cybersecurity, combating illegal migration, extradition, aviation security, safeguarding global supply chains, and maritime security, among other areas. The last homeland security dialogue took place in January 2022.

Senior officials from both sides are expected to attend the full-day gathering. According to sources, issues linked to Khalistani separatist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun and several fugitives residing in the US are expected to be raised during the dialogue

India is expected to emphasise on issues such as the exploitation of the digital sphere by terrorist organizations for disseminating radical ideologies, recruitment, and financing terrorism. Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) officials are expected to seek collaboration with the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

India will also emphasise on issues of cyberattacks on its essential infrastructure, including banks, railways, power and energy facilities, and hospitals. Previously, non-state actors from China, Cambodia, the Philippines, and Myanmar have targeted critical infrastructure.

In 2022, data from the government-operated All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) was breached. A senior official mentioned concerns regarding data sovereignty due to the misuse of Indian data by numerous Chinese lending apps and online investment fraud.

The meeting is significant as this would provide another platform for India to raise these issues with the US.
Last year, National Investigation Agency Director General Dinkar Gupta met with his counterpart Christopher Wray from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. During the meeting, Gupta discussed ongoing investigations in the US regarding the attack on the Indian consulate in San Francisco by Pro-Khalistan elements. He emphasised the growing nexus between terrorist organisations and members of organized criminal syndicates, which is extending its reach to the US.

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