'Matter of concern; contrary to government policy...' MEA responds to US indictment of Indian official in NYC
The indictment charges Indian official Nikhil Gupta, along with others, in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York with murder-for-hire and conspiracy to assassinate Khalistani terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannu on US soil
It is a matter of concern and contrary to government policy, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Thursday in response to queries about an indictment that has been brought against an Indian official in the United States over the foiled plot to assassinate wanted Khalistani terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannu In New York City,
"The nexus between organised crime, trafficking, gun-running and extremists at the international level is a serious issue for law enforcement agencies and organisations to consider. And this is why a high-level committee has been constituted. We will be guided by its results," MEA spokesman Arindam Bagchi said.
An Indian government official has been implicated in the plot to assassinate Gurpatwant Singh Pannu, founder of the banned Sikhs for Justice organization. The United States Attorney has revealed charges against the Indian official, 52-year-old Indian national Nikhil Gupta, and others in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York. Accusations include murder-for-hire and conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire, each carrying a maximum 10-year prison sentence.
Court documents detail a complex conspiracy involving an Indian government employee, described as a 'Senior Field Officer' with expertise in 'Security Management' and 'Intelligence'. Allegedly directing the assassination plot from India, this individual collaborated with Gupta and others. Pannu, a US citizen residing in New York City and vocal critic of the Indian government, was identified as the victim.
Gupta, residing in India and associated with the government employee, was tasked with coordinating the plot. The Indian government employee reportedly directed Gupta to contact a presumed criminal associate for hiring a hitman. Unbeknownst to Gupta, the criminal associate was an undercover DEA officer. The Indian government employee agreed to pay $100,000 for the murder, with an initial $15,000 delivered as an advance payment in Manhattan on June 9, 2023.
Providing personal information about Pannu, Gupta forwarded surveillance photographs and kept the government employee updated on the progress. Gupta instructed the undercover agent to expedite the murder but advised against acting during anticipated high-level engagements between US and Indian government officials.
On June 18, 2023, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, an associate of Pannu, was murdered in British Columbia, Canada. Gupta informed the undercover officer that Nijjar 'was also the target' and urged swift action following Nijjar's death. The intricate conspiracy raises serious concerns about international security and underscores the complexities of political dissidence.