The US Department of Justice has issued a statement alleging a foiled plot from India to murder a US-based Sikh separatist. The foreign ministry said earlier today that it was examining the inputs from the United States.
Sikh separatist — a dual citizen of the United States and Canada — was allegedly the target of the plot.
In a statement today, the US Attorney’s Office accused an Indian government employee of being part of a murder conspiracy.
The US Attorney’s Office has filed “murder-for-hire” and murder-for-hire conspiracy charges against Indian national Nikhil Gupta. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 20 years.
“We have already said that during the course of discussions with the US on bilateral security cooperation, the US side shared some inputs pertaining to nexus between organised criminals, gun runners, terrorists and others. We had also indicated that India takes such inputs seriously since they impinge on our national security interests as well, and relevant departments were already examining the issue,” the foreign ministry here has said.
“In this context, it is informed that on November 18, the Government of India constituted a high-level Enquiry Committee to look into all the relevant aspects of the matter,” the ministry said.
India will take “necessary follow-up action” based on the findings of the committee, it added.
On November 20, the National Investigation Agency filed a case against Pannun, accusing him of issuing social media messages that said people flying with Air India were in danger. He had also claimed that Air India would not be allowed to operate on November 19.
Last week, the White House said the US is “treating a reported plot to kill a Sikh separatist on American soil with utmost seriousness” and has raised the issue with the Indian government “at the senior-most levels”.
The Justice Department statement come two months after a diplomatic row with Canada, following Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s allegations of “potential” involvement of Indian agents in the killing of a Canadian citizen, Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
Nijjar, who was the chief of the banned Khalistan Tiger Force and one of India’s most-wanted terrorists, was killed in June.
Refuting the allegations as “politically motivated”, India said Canada should share evidence — a request Ottawa has so far declined.
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