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'We take this very seriously...' US on alleged Indian murder-for-hire plot in New York City against Pannun

The US has welcomed India's initiation of an investigation into allegations involving an Indian government employee in a murder-for-hire plot targeting Khalistani activist Gurpatwant Singh Pannu in New York. Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed seriousness about the matter and looks forward to the investigation's results

We take this very seriously US on alleged Indian murder-for-hire plot in New York City against Gurpatwant Singh Pannun
First Published Dec 1, 2023, 10:03 AM IST

In response to India's announcement of an investigation into allegations of an Indian government employee's involvement in a murder-for-hire plot targeting Khalistani activist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun in New York, the United States expressed its welcome for the move. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken acknowledged the seriousness of the matter during a press briefing, stating that several concerns had been directly raised with the Indian government in recent weeks.

"I can say that this is something we take very seriously.  A number of us have raised this directly with the Indian Government in the past weeks.  The government announced today that it was conducting an investigation, and that’s good and appropriate, and we look forward to seeing the results," Secretary Blinken said when asked whether he was concerned that India was turning to tactics that violate international human rights law to silence its critics around the world.

The developments unfolded a day after the United States charged Indian national Nikhil Gupta with conspiring to kill Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a Sikh separatist and US citizen. Secretary Blinken highlighted the importance of the ongoing investigation, emphasizing that the US looks forward to seeing the results.

India, in response, has formed a high-level probe committee to investigate all aspects of the case. The Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) described the situation as a 'matter of concern' and reiterated its commitment to investigating the allegations relating to the foiled plot. MEA spokesman Arindam Bagchi emphasized that the case is contrary to government policy.

Nikhil Gupta, the individual charged in the US court, is alleged to have worked with an Indian government employee in the foiled plot against Pannun. US federal prosecutors revealed that Gupta, aged 52, has been arrested and detained in the Czech Republic, awaiting extradition to the US.

The MEA spokesperson stated that the allegations do not alter India's stance on Canada's accusations regarding the killing of Khalistani separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar. The US charges come in the wake of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's earlier claims of potential Indian involvement in Nijjar's killing.

The nexus between organized crime, trafficking, gunrunning, and extremism at an international level is being taken seriously by Indian law enforcement agencies. Bagchi confirmed that a high-level inquiry committee has been constituted to examine all relevant aspects, with follow-up action based on the findings.

The US administration's concerns about the alleged plot prompted CIA Director William J Burns and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines to visit India in August and October, respectively, urging a thorough investigation and accountability for those responsible.

On Canada's allegations, Bagchi noted that the primary issue with Ottawa has been the activities of anti-India elements in the country. Further details on security matters were withheld due to the sensitivity of the ongoing investigations.

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