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'Contrary To Government Policy': MEA On United States Indicting Indian National Nikhil Gupta In 'Plot To Kill'

After the United States charged an Indian national Nikhil Gupta with conspiring to kill a Sikh separatist on American soil, the Ministry Of External Affairs on Thursday described it a matter of concern and asserted that a high-level probe committee will investigate all aspects of the case. 

Gurpatwant Singh Pannun
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After the United States charged an Indian national with conspiring to kill a Sikh separatist on American soil, the Ministry Of External Affairs on Thursday described it as a "matter of concern" and asserted that a high-level probe committee will investigate all aspects of the case. 

US federal prosecutors charged Indian national Nikhil Gupta of working with an Indian government employee in the foiled plot to kill Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a Sikh extremist and known to be an American and Canadian citizen. India has constituted a probe team to investigate allegations with regards to this.

Authorities in the Czech Republic arrested and detained Gupta, and he is currently awaiting extradition to the US, prosecutors informed a Manhattan court on Wednesday. "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," External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said. "We have said and let me reiterate that this is also contrary to government policy," he said at a media briefing.

Bagchi said the "nexus between organised crime, trafficking, gunrunning and extremists at an international level is a serious issue for the law enforcement agencies and organisations 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."

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. "During the course of discussions with the US on bilateral security cooperation, the US side shared some inputs pertaining to nexus between organised criminals, gunrunners, terrorists and other extremists," he said.

"We take such inputs very seriously and a high level inquiry committee has been constituted to look into all the relevant aspects of the matter," he said, in identical remarks that he made on Wednesday. Bagchi said India will take necessary follow-up action based on the findings of the enquiry committee. "We cannot share any further information on such security matters," he 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. 

In context of the similar matter, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, "The news coming out of the United States further underscores what we've been talking about from the very beginning, which is that India needs to take this seriously." 

Trudeau emphasised the necessity for collaboration, stating, "The Indian government needs to work with us to ensure that we're getting to the bottom of this." He had earlier alleged that there was a "potential" involvement of Indian agents in the killing of Khalistani separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in a Vancouver suburb in June. India had strongly rejected these charges.

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