India remains strategic partner, 'plot to kill' serious: US official on indictment
John Kirby said India has taken the issue seriously and announced their efforts to investigate.
India remains a strategic partner of the US and the US is going to continue to work to improve and strengthen the partnership with India but the allegations of the assassination plot are very serious, White House official John Kirby said on being asked about the indictment of an Indian national in a 'plot-to-kill' Gurpatwant Pannun. "We take the allegations and the investigation very seriously. We are glad to see that the Indians are too (take seriously) by announcing their own efforts to investigate this. And we have been clear that we want to see anybody that's responsible for these alleged crimes to be held properly accountable," John Kirby said.
US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken also commented on the issue and said the issue has been raised directly with the Indian government in the past weeks. “This is an ongoing legal matter. 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. 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 said.
The US Department of Justice on Wednesday indicted Nikhil Gupta, an Indian, alleging his involvement in a plot to assassinate a US-based Sikh leader in New York -- which got foiled. The US indictment did not name separatist leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun. Nikhil Gupta allegedly worked with an Indian government official whose name has not been disclosed in the indictment either.
New Delhi reacted to the indictment and said it was a matter of great concern. "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," ministry of external affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said. "We have said and let me reiterate that this is also contrary to government policy," he said.
India already constituted a probe team to investigate the allegations regarding a foiled plot to kill Pannun and a 'nexus between organised crime, trafficking, gunrunning and extremists'. Necessary follow-up action will be taken based on the findings of the enquiry committee, the ministry said earlier.
Pannun assassination plot part of a campaign of planned killings: Report
The foiled plot to kill Gurpatwant Singh Pannun was meant to precede a string of other politically motivated murders in the United States and Canada, US prosecutors said, as reported by AP. The goal was to kill at least four people in the two countries by June 29, and then more after that, prosecutors contend.
The indictment mentioned the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Canada and claimed that Nikhil Gupta told the purported hitman (a Drug Enforcement Administration informer) that Nijjar was also a target. The 'hitman' was told there would be a bigger job, every month, it has been alleged. Nikhil Gupta was arrested on June 30 in the Czech Republic.
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