• Saturday, March 02, 2024

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India concerned over US linking intelligence official in plot to kill Sikh separatist

By: Kimberly Rodrigues

India expressed concern on Thursday (30), regarding the United States’ linking of an Indian official with a man accused of conspiring to kill a Sikh separatist within American territory.

Indian officials affirmed that they would take subsequent actions based on the conclusions drawn by a panel investigating these allegations.

India has already constituted a probe team to investigate the allegations relating to the foiled plot to kill Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a Sikh extremist known to be an American and Canadian citizen.

On Wednesday, US federal prosecutors charged Nikhil Gupta, 52, of working with an Indian government employee in the foiled plot to kill Pannun.

The US prosecutors informed a Manhattan court on Wednesday that authorities in the Czech Republic arrested and detained Gupta and he is currently awaiting extradition to the US.

“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,” Bagchi said at a media briefing.

“We have said and let me reiterate that this is also contrary to government policy,” he said.

At the same time, Bagchi said this case does not change India’s stand on Canada’s allegations in connection with the killing of Khalistani separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

Washington’s allegations relating to the unsuccessful plot came weeks after Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau alleged that there was a “potential” involvement of Indian agents in the killing of Nijjar in a Vancouver suburb in June.

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

The MEA spokesperson said the US side shared some “inputs” pertaining to nexus between organised criminals, gun runners and terrorists and that India takes such inputs seriously since they impinge on “our national security interests as well” and that relevant departments were examining the issue.

“We cannot share any further information on such security matters,” Bagchi said.

Pannun, a leader of the so called ‘Sikhs for Justice’, is wanted by Indian probe agencies on various terror charges.

The Financial Times, citing unnamed sources, first reported last week that US authorities foiled a plot to assassinate Pannun, and issued a warning to the Indian government over concerns it was involved in the plot.

The Washington Post on Wednesday said the Biden administration was so concerned after discovering the plot that it sent CIA Director William J Burns and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines to India in August and October respectively to demand investigation and hold those responsible to account.

Regarding Canada’s allegations, Bagchi said the main issue with Ottawa has been that of activities of anti-India elements in that country.

“Insofar as Canada is concerned, they have consistently given space to anti-India extremists and violence. That is at the heart of the issue. Our diplomatic representatives have borne the brunt of this,” he said.

“So, we expect the Government of Canada to live up to their obligations under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. We have also seen interference in our internal affairs. This is obviously unacceptable,” he added.

(PTI)

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