Highlights

  • White House on 'Khalistani murder plot'
  • US appreciates India for forming panel
  • US: India's response good & appropriate

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'Good, appropriate': US on India setting up panel to probe 'Khalistani murder plot'

The US has appreciated India for setting up a panel to probe allegations of plot to assassinate a Sikh separatist on US soil. White House official John Kirby said that the US takes the matter seriously. He added that India remains a strategic partner. 

'Good, appropriate': US on India setting up panel to probe 'Khalistani murder plot'

The White House on Thursday praised New Delhi for setting up its own investigations on the US allegations that an Indian official was involved in a plot to kill separatist Sikh leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun.

The unnamed Indian official appeared in an indictment filed by federal prosecutors in a Manhattan court on Wednesday along with an Indian national, who the Department of Justice alleges hired someone in the US to assassinate Pannun, a vocal critic of India and espousing the cause of a separate Khalistan.

"These allegations in this investigation, (we) take it very seriously. And we're glad to see that the Indians are too by announcing their own efforts to investigate this. And we've been clear that we want to see anybody that's responsible for these alleged crimes to be held properly accountable," John Kirby, Coordinator for Strategic Communications at the National Security Council in the White House, told reporters at a news conference here.

However, this will not have an impact on India-US relationship, he said, observing that the US unearthed this plot after the historic visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the US.

"I want to be careful here that I don't get ahead of the Department of Justice and talk about an ongoing investigation. I would just say two things. India remains a strategic partner and we're going to continue to work to improve and strengthen that strategic partnership with India. At the same time, we take this very seriously," Kirby said in response to a question.

The Department of Justice, in an indictment charged Indian national Nikhil Gupta with conspiracy to commit murder for hire for his alleged role in the plot to kill the Sikh American individual. Gupta is accused of working with an Indian government employee to recruit and pay an assassin to carry out the killing.

"We are deeply disturbed by these reports and the potential threat they pose to the safety of our community. Since 2020, SALDEF has been tracking instances of censorship of diasporic Sikh voices and today's indictment is not an isolated incident but a part of a broader pattern of silencing Sikh voices,” said Kiran Kaur Gill, executive director of SALDEF, which describes itself as is a national Sikh American impact organisation focused on building leadership and capacity in the Sikh American community.

"If these allegations are true, it would represent a serious violation of international law and be a blatant example of transnational repression," Gill said.

New Delhi announcing an investigation into allegations by the US that an Indian official was involved in a foiled plot to assassinate a Sikh separatist leader in the United States is good and appropriate, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday.

"The government announced today that it was conducting an investigation, and that’s good and appropriate, and we look forward to seeing the results,” Blinken told reporters travelling with him in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Blinken was responding to a question on the appearance of an unnamed Indian official in an indictment filed by federal US prosecutors in a Manhattan court on Wednesday along with an Indian national, who the Department of Justice alleges hired someone in the US to assassinate Pannun, a vocal critic of India and espousing the cause of separate Khalistan.

"This is an ongoing legal matter. So you’ll understand I can’t comment on it in detail. I can say that this is something we take very seriously. A number of us have raised this directly with the Indian Government in past weeks," Blinken said.


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