Pannun ‘murder’ plot: US says working with India to hold those responsible

New York: The United States on Wednesday said it was working with the Indian government to hold accountable those behind a plot to kill Khalistani separatist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun. During a Congressional hearing on Wednesday, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Donald Lu told members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee that the issue is “serious”.

“This is a serious issue. A serious issue between the United States and India. The Department of Justice has alleged that an Indian citizen at the behest of someone working in the Indian government has attempted to kill an American citizen on American soil,” Donald Lu said. “We take this in the administration incredibly seriously and have raised it at the highest levels with India.”

In November last year, US prosecutors in New York unsealed an indictment charging Nikhil Gupta, 52, with collaborating with an Indian government employee in a thwarted scheme to assassinate Pannun, who possesses both US and Canadian citizenship.

The prosecutors alleged that Nikhil Gupta, acting on the instructions of an unnamed Indian official, contacted a person whom he believed to be a criminal associate for help in killing Pannun on American soil. India has already constituted a probe committee to investigate the allegations. Pannun, a leader of the banned Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), has already been declared a terrorist by India.

Donald Lu said the Joe Biden administration was working with India to hold those behind the foiled plot. “What we can see is that India itself has announced that they have created a committee of inquiry to look into this matter and we ask them to work quickly and transparently to make sure justice is done,” he said.

The United States is keeping quiet as Pannun, the Sikh For Justice (SFJ) founder who was declared a ‘designated individual terrorist’ by India in 2020, has been issuing threats against India, targeting Indian politicians, diplomats, and intelligence officers.

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