‘Matter of concern’: MEA on US charging Indian in plot to kill Khalistani leader | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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‘Matter of concern’: MEA on US charging Indian in plot to kill Khalistani leader

Nov 30, 2023 09:14 PM IST

MEA spokesperson Arindram Bagchi said the US had shared the inputs during discussions on bilateral security cooperation. He declined to share further information, such as the specifics of the inputs, on the grounds of security

India on Thursday described a case filed in a US court against an Indian national for alleged involvement in a plot to kill a Khalistani leader on American soil as a “matter of concern” and said follow-up action will be taken on the findings of an inquiry committee looking into the matter.

External affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi (Twitter Photo)
External affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi (Twitter Photo)

US prosecutors have alleged that Nikhil Gupta alias Nick worked on the directions of an Indian government employee, who described himself as a “senior field officer” responsible for intelligence, to arrange the assassination of Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a senior leader of the outlawed Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) who has been declared a terrorist by India.

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While the indictment filed in a US federal court in Manhattan on Wednesday did not name the Indian official or the victim of the assassination plot, unnamed American officials have told the media that Pannun was the target. Recent media reports have also said that US authorities thwarted a plot to kill Pannun and issued a warning to the Indian side.

Also Read: US charges Indian man Nikhil Gupta in plot to kill US citizen: See indictment

“As regards the case against an individual that has been filed in a US court, allegedly linking him to an Indian official, this is a matter of concern. We have said, and let me reiterate, that this is also contrary to government policy,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi told a media briefing.

Without referring to Pannun or giving further details, Bagchi said the US side had shared “some inputs pertaining to [a] nexus between organised criminals, gun runners, terrorists [and] other extremists”.

He added, “We take, of course, such inputs very seriously, and a high-level inquiry committee has been constituted to look into all the relevant aspects of the matter. And necessary follow-up action will be taken based on the findings of the inquiry committee.”

The indictment filed against Gupta in the US court alleges that the Indian official had described the plot to target Pannun as a “priority” two days after another Khalistani leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar was gunned down near a gurdwara in the Canadian town of Surrey on June 18. Gupta, who was arrested in the Czech Republic at the request of the US in June, was allegedly working with an Indian official to ensure the dismissal of a criminal case against him in India.

Bagchi said the US had shared the inputs during discussions on bilateral security cooperation. He declined to share further information, such as the specifics of the inputs, on the grounds of security.

“The nexus between organised crime, trafficking, gun running and extremists at an international level is a serious issue for law enforcement agencies and organisations to consider, and it is precisely for that reason that a high-level inquiry committee has been constituted, and we will obviously be guided by its results,” Bagchi said.

Also Read: High-level panel looking into US’s security concerns: MEA

However, Bagchi again dismissed allegations made by Canada regarding the potential involvement of Indian government agents in the killing of Nijjar, and said the “heart of the issue” is the Canadian side giving space to anti-India extremists.

About two months before the emergence of media reports about the alleged plot to kill Pannun, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau triggered a diplomatic storm with his accusation of a link between Indian agents and the slaying of Nijjar. India and Canada both expelled a senior official each and New Delhi’s insistence on parity in diplomatic presence forced the Canadian side to withdraw 41 diplomats from the country.

“Insofar as Canada is concerned, we have said that they have consistently given space to anti-India extremists and violence, and that is actually the heart of the issue,” Bagchi said.

Indian diplomats in Canada have borne the brunt of this and New Delhi expects the Canadian government to live up to its obligations under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, he said. “We have also seen interference by Canadian diplomats in our internal affairs...and that is obviously unacceptable,” he added.

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