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Sikh separatist's murder plot: US says New Delhi accountable

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Sikh separatists murder plot: US says New Delhi accountable
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White House national security spokesman John Kirby. (AFP photo)

Washington: The White House on Thursday said that the Indian government must be held accountable for the alleged plot to kill the Sikh separatist in New York, though India is a strategic partner to the United States, Scroll.in reports.

The United States Attorney’s Office (AO) Southern District of New York has filed “murder-for-hire charges” against an Indian national named Nikhil Gupta for alleged involvement in the thwarted attempt to murder the separatist leader. The AO announced the same on November 29.

Fifty-two-year-old Gupta was arrested by the Czech authorities on June 30 under charges of being an international narcotics trafficker.

The AO did not name the Sikh separatist leader in its statement, but a Finacial Times report identified him as Gurpatwant Singh Pannun. The news house reported that the US administration thwarted the alleged murder plot against him.

In a statement released by AO, it alleged that Nikhil Gupta was recruited by an Indian government employee who monitored the alleged plot to kill an attorney, political activist and a US citizen of Indian origin.

In a press conference on Thursday, National Security Spokesperson John Kirby said that India is a strategic partner and Washington is deepening the partnership. As members of the Quad in the Pacific, the two nations participate on a range of issues, and Washington wishes to continue the same unabated. However, the US administration recognises the seriousness of the allegations levelled by the AO.

Pannun, the founder of a group called Sikhs for Justice, was declared an “individual terrorist” under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act in 2020. The organisation advocates for Khalistan, an independent state for Sikhs, and is banned in India.

India declared Pannun as an “individual terrorist” under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act in 2020. His organisation, Sikhs for Justice, demands for an independent state, Khalistan.

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