Probe Pannun plot or ties may be hit: US ‘Samosa Caucus’ to India | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Probe Pannun plot or ties may be hit: US ‘Samosa Caucus’ to India

Dec 16, 2023 07:09 AM IST

The five Congressional leaders welcomed India’s announcement of a committee of enquiry to investigate the murder plot

Washington All five serving Indian-American members of the US Congress, based on a secret briefing by the US administration, have warned that unless India investigates and holds those responsible for plotting an assassination of an American citizen on American soil accountable, it can cause “significant damage” to the “very consequential” India-US bilateral partnership.

Gurpatwant Singh Pannun is an American-Canadian dual citizen who India has designated as a terrorist (AP)
Gurpatwant Singh Pannun is an American-Canadian dual citizen who India has designated as a terrorist (AP)

They have also sought a clear assurance from India that such an incident will never occur again.

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In a joint statement, Amy Bera, Pramila Jayapal, Ro Khanna, Raja Krishnamoorthi and Shri Thanedar — all Democrats who serve in the House of Representatives from diverge geographies and are members of key legislative committees — said the US administration had provided them a classified briefing on the indictment of Nikhil Gupta in connection with a foiled plot to assassinate Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, an American-Canadian dual citizen who India has designated as a terrorist, in New York City.

Last month, the US Department of Justice unsealed an indictment that implicated a serving Indian government official for orchestrating the plot and seeking to assassinate Pannun in June this year through Gupta, who, in turn, hired a hitman who turned out to be an undercover agent for US law enforcement. India responded by acknowledging that it had received inputs from the US and announced the constitution of a high-level investigation committee to examine the issue.

Also Read | Those behind Pannun ‘plot’ need to be held accountable: White House

Thanking the administration for providing the briefing, the five Congressional leaders, who informally call themselves the “samosa caucus” in a nod to their Indian roots, said, “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.”

They welcomed India’s announcement of a committee of enquiry to investigate the murder plot, adding, “It is critical that India fully investigate, hold those responsible, including Indian government officials, accountable, and provide assurances that this will not happen again.”

The five Indian-American leaders said that they believed that the US-India partnership had made a “meaningful impact” on the lives of people of both countries. “But we are concerned that the actions outlined in the indictment could, if not appropriately addressed, cause significant damage to this very consequential partnership.”

Bera, a representative from California, is on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, where he is a ranking member of the subcommittee on Indo-Pacific, besides being a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Khanna, also from California, is the co-chair of the House India caucus and a member of the House Armed Services Committee. Krishnamoorthi, a representative from Illinois, is the ranking member of the House Select Committee on the strategic competition between the US and the Chinese Communist Party as well as the House Intelligence Committee. Jayapal, an elected representative from Washington state, is the chair of the House Progressive Caucus. And Thanedar is the newest Indian-American member of the US Congress, elected last year from Michigan.

Also Read | US appreciates India's probe efforts into foiled plot to kill Pannun case

While the five leaders, in varying degrees and at different times, have expressed concerns about India’s domestic political record, with Jayapal being the most critical, they have also served as an important source of support for the bilateral relationship on the Hill. The fact that the administration has briefed these leaders, and they have felt the need to issue a statement expressing deep concern and a warning to India, illustrates how the allegations can become a bigger issue both on the Hill and within the diaspora, even as both governments have sought to ensure it doesn’t interrupt the momentum in bilateral ties.

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