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US accuses Indian official in foiled plot to kill Sikh separatist in NYC

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US federal prosecutors have accused an Indian government official of orchestrating a plot to kill a Sikh activist in New York City, complicating the Biden administration’s efforts to boost ties with India to help counter China.

The allegations were contained in an indictment filed on Wednesday by the US justice department, which charged another Indian citizen with working with the official to carry out the plot. The Indian official was not named or charged in the indictment.

Although federal prosecutors did not name the target of the alleged plot, the Financial Times has confirmed it was Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a dual US-Canadian citizen who is general counsel for Sikhs for Justice, a US-based group that is part of a separatist movement pushing for the creation of an independent Sikh state in India called “Khalistan”.

Wednesday’s indictment, filed in federal court in Manhattan, alleges that the Indian official — who is unnamed but referred to as CC-1 — described himself as a “senior field officer” whose responsibilities include “intelligence”. It said the official directed the foiled plot from India.

The official allegedly “recruited” the Indian citizen charged in the indictment, identified as Nikhil Gupta, in May. Gupta was arrested in the Czech Republic in June at the request of US authorities, according to the indictment.

Pannun told the FT he believed the government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was trying to kill him because he was organising a referendum on whether Punjab, the majority Sikh province in India, should be an independent country.

“The attempt on my life on American soil is a blatant case of India’s transnational terrorism, which has become a challenge to America’s sovereignty and threat to freedom of speech and democracy,” Pannun said on Wednesday.

“This is an indictment against Narendra…

2023-11-29 11:11:32

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