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United States Names Indian Official In Sikh Separatist Murder Plot

The United States Justice Department has declared attempted murder charges against an Indian official. The Indian official allegedly lead an unsuccessful attempt at assassinating a Sikh separatist leader on foreign soil.


The federal prosecutors charged Nikhil Gupta, age 52, who worked with the Indian government to attempt an assassination on Sikh separatist leader. Sikh separatists have been demanding a separate Sikh-only state in northern India. While India expressed concern over the involvement of an Indian official in the murder, it also stated that the act was against government policy. 


The prosecutors did not release the names of the accused and the victim. They are sure the victim was a U.S. citizen of Indian origins. He was named Gurpatwant Singh Pannun and held dual citizenship in Canada and the United States. 


The Czech authorities arrested Gupta in June. He has been waiting for his extradition. He was not available for comments. 


The news came to light two months after Canada accused Indian officials of the murder of Canadian citizen Hardeep Singh Nijjar. Nijjar was a Sikh separatist leader living in a Vancouver suburb. India denied any involvement in the matter. 


A top federal prosecutor from Manhattan, Damian Williams, stated, "The defendant conspired from India to assassinate, right here in New York City, a U.S. citizen of Indian origin who has publicly advocated for the establishment of a sovereign state for Sikhs."


The Indian official is allegedly a senior field officer. He was responsible for security management and intelligence. The Indian government reportedly employed him to carry out the attack. 


Last week, a Biden administration official claimed that they foiled an assassination attempt on a Sikh separatist. The United States government warned India that the New Delhi government might be responsible. 


Biden also discussed the issue at length at the G20 summit. United States officials Jkae Sullivan and Antony Blinked discussed these issues with the Indian foreign minister. Avril Haines, director of the National Intelligence, also conducted an internal investigation in India. 


Delicate Issue For Both Nations

India and the United States are attempting to handle the issue delicately. Currently, both nations face a threat from China, and strained relations will adversely affect any chance of an alliance. 


Arindam Bagchi, a spokesperson for the Indian foreign ministry, stated that it is concerning that an Indian official was involved. It is also against national policy to take such actions. Thus, the Indian government will take the matters seriously and carry out necessary actions.


After the indictment, the Indian official named the Indian government as the orchestrator of the assassination attempt. Thus, the United States initiated direct conversations with the Indian government at the highest levels. 


In an interview with Reuters regarding an attempt on his life, Pannun commented, "It is a blatant case of India's transnational terrorism, which has become a challenge to America's sovereignty and a threat to freedom of speech and democracy."

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