'Can significantly damage partnership...' Indian American Congressmen concerned over Nikhil Gupta indictment
Following a classified briefing from the Joe Biden Administration, Representatives Ami Bera, Pramila Jayapal, Ro Khanna, Raja Krishnamoorthi, and Thanedar release a statement emphasizing the need for appropriate action to prevent damage to the US-India partnership
Indian American members of Congress have raised concerns over the indictment of Nikhil Gupta, an Indian national allegedly involved in a thwarted plot to assassinate a US citizen in New York City. The concerns were articulated by US Representatives Ami Bera, Pramila Jayapal, Ro Khanna, Raja Krishnamoorthi, and Thanedar following a classified briefing from the Biden Administration regarding the indictment.
The statement from the Indian American Representatives emphasized the gravity of the situation, stating, "As Members of Congress, the safety and well-being of our constituents is our most important priority. The allegations made in the indictment are deeply concerning." The Congress members acknowledged the Administration's briefing on the Department of Justice’s indictment of Nikhil Gupta, which accuses an Indian government official of engaging in a murder-for-hire plot against an American citizen.
The Representatives welcomed the Government of India’s announcement of a Committee of Enquiry to investigate the murder plot. They stressed the importance of a thorough investigation, holding those responsible, including Indian government officials, accountable, and ensuring that such incidents are prevented in the future. Expressing their apprehension, the statement noted, "We believe the US-India partnership has made a meaningful impact on the lives of both of our people, but we are concerned that the actions outlined in the indictment could, if not appropriately addressed, cause significant damage to this very consequential partnership."
The charges against Nikhil Gupta were unveiled in a Superseding Indictment unsealed in November in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York. Although the prosecutors did not disclose the target's identity, US officials identified him as Sikh separatist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun.
The indictment identifies an Indian government employee as CC-1, collaborating with others, including Gupta, to direct the plot to assassinate "a US citizen of Indian origin" residing in New York City. Gupta, residing in India, is alleged to be associated with CC-1 and involved in international narcotics and weapons trafficking.
Gupta was arrested and detained by Czech authorities on June 30, based on the bilateral extradition treaty between the United States and the Czech Republic. He faces charges of murder-for-hire and conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire, each carrying a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
External Affairs Minister Arindam Bagchi responded to the US charges against Gupta, stating, "India takes such inputs seriously since they impinge on our national security interests as well, and relevant departments are already examining the issue." Additionally, a high-level inquiry committee has been established by the Indian government to investigate the case further.