Indian National, Accused Of Murder-For-Hire Plot Of Khalistani Extremist Pannun, Extradited To US

Rohini Musa, Gupta's attorney, wrote a plea to the Supreme Court of India that her client is being "unfairly prosecuted".

Sikh separatist leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun | Photo: PTI

Indian national Nikhil Gupta, accused of being involved in murder-for-hire plot to assassinate Khalistani extremist and designated terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, has been extradited to the United States from Czech Republic, media reports said on Sunday.

At the request of the US government, a 52-year-old Gupta was arrested in the Czech Republic last year for the charges of being involved in a plot to assassinate Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) leader Pannun. The Indian national is likely to be produced before a New York federal court on Monday.

According to The Washington Post, Gupta is being held at the Metropolitan Detention Centre in Brooklyn, which is a federal administrative detention facility.

Gupta reportedly arrived in New York over the weekend, people familiar with the matter said while noting that extradited defendants are required to appear before the court within a day of their arrival.

Meanwhile, the Indian national's lawyers termed him to be a law-abiding business who has been, in an unfair manner, entangled in the "escalating geopolitical crossfire between the US and the Indian government", the media report said.

Federal prosecutors alleged that an unidentified Indian government official hired Gupta to arrange the hit, who in turn paid an advance of USD 15,000 to a hired hitman for killing Pannun.

Pannun a self-proclaimed general council of the pro-Khalistani group, Sikhs for Justice, has been involved in several terror-activities including his threats to India.

The extradition comes in the backdrop of US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan's visit to New Delhi for the annual ICET dialogue. Reportedly, Sullivan is likely to raise this issue before his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval.

Rohini Musa, Gupta's attorney, wrote a plea to the Supreme Court of India that her client is being "unfairly prosecuted", adding that there "is nothing on record to link the Petitioner to the massive alleged plot to assassinate the alleged victim", The Washington Post reported.

She alleged that Gupta received legal advice from a Czech government-appointed attorney "under the undue influence of US agencies" during his initial detention. Reportedly, Musa said that the US and India were going at each other to blame them for their foreign policy.

Prosecutors alleged that as per the indictment, the involved Indian government agent sent Pannun's street address to Gupta, telling him that the Sikh separatist's murder was a "priority".

However, it is notable that the Indian government has denied involvement in any such case and has launched an investigation into the allegations.

(With agency inputs)