Panel to probe allegations of plot to kill Khalistani extremist on US soil: MEA | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
close_game
close_game

Panel to probe allegations of plot to kill Khalistani extremist on US soil: MEA

Nov 29, 2023 09:00 PM IST

The media report about the alleged plot to kill Pannun came about two months after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau alleged in September that there was a potential link between Indian government agents and the killing of another Khalistani leader, Hardeep Singh Nijjar

New Delhi

External affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi (File Photo)
External affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi (File Photo)

India on Wednesday said it has set up a high-level inquiry committee to examine allegations of a conspiracy to kill Khalistani leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun on US soil, even as a media report said the matter had been raised with New Delhi by the top American leadership.

Hindustan Times - your fastest source for breaking news! Read now.

The Financial Times, citing unnamed people had reported on November 22 that US authorities had thwarted a plot to assassinate Pannun, a leader of the banned Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), and issued a “warning” to the Indian government over concerns it was linked to the plot.

External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said the Indian government constituted the high-level inquiry committee on November 18 to look into “all the relevant aspects” of the matter.

“We have already said that during the course of discussions with the US on bilateral security cooperation, the US side shared some inputs pertaining to nexus between organised criminals, gun runners, terrorists and others,” Bagchi said in a brief statement that made no reference to Pannun or SFJ.

He added, “We had also indicated that India takes such inputs seriously since they impinge on our national security interests as well, and relevant departments were already examining the issue.”

Bagchi further said, “In this context, it is informed that on November 18, the Government of India constituted a high-level Enquiry Committee to look into all the relevant aspects of the matter.”

India will take “necessary follow-up action” based on the findings of the committee, he said.

The Financial Times report about the alleged plot to kill Pannun came about two months after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made an allegation in September of a potential link between Indian government agents and the killing of another Khalistani leader, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who was gunned down in the parking lot of a gurdwara in the town of Surrey in June.

At the time, India strongly denied the accusation and dismissed it as absurd. India-Canada relations deteriorated swiftly after the allegation as both sides expelled a senior diplomat each and India suspended visa services for Canadian nationals. The Indian side further sought parity in diplomatic presence, forcing Canada to withdraw 41 diplomats from the country.

During a recent visit to New Delhi, US secretary of state Antony Blinken called on India to work with Canada in its investigation into the killing of Nijjar so that the two countries can resolve their differences on the issue in a cooperative manner.

The external affairs ministry’s statement on Wednesday made it clear that the Indian inquiry was launched four days before the Financial Times reported on the issue on November 22.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that US President Joe Biden, secretary of State Antony Blinken, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, CIA director Wiliam Burns and National Intelligence Director Avril Haines had all raised the alleged plot to kill Pannun with their Indian counterparts since August. The scheme was foiled by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in June, shortly after the killing of Nijjar, the report said.

Sullivan “brought his concerns to his counterpart, Ajit Doval,” in person at a meeting in another country in early August. A week later, Burns travelled to India to deliver the same message to his counterpart, The Post reported.

Sullivan “underscored that India needed to investigate [the plot] and hold those responsible, accountable, and that the US needed an assurance that this would not happen again”, The Post quoted unnamed US officials as saying.

Biden stressed the seriousness of the issue at a meeting with the Indian premier on the margins of the G20 summit in September and the “potential repercussions for the bilateral relationship were similar threats to persist”, The Post added.

Blinken and Sullivan raised the issue again when external affairs minister S Jaishankar visited Washington after attending the United Nations General Assembly in September. Haines visited India in October and shared information about the plot with the Indian government, the report said.

There was no immediate response to The Washington Post’s allegations from the MEA.

US National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said Indian counterparts had “expressed surprise and concern” about the allegations and stated that “activity of this nature was not their policy”.

The Post also reported that US federal prosecutors in Manhattan are expected to file a new indictment against an Indian national, Nikhil Gupta, who was charged in June with paying a hitman to kill Pannun. Gupta allegedly conspired with several others, “at least one of whom is believed to be an official in India”, the report said.

Unveiling 'Elections 2024: The Big Picture', a fresh segment in HT's talk show 'The Interview with Kumkum Chadha', where leaders across the political spectrum discuss the upcoming general elections. Watch Now!

Get Current Updates on India News, PM Narendra Modi Live Updates along with Latest News and Top Headlines from India and around the world
SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Share this article
SHARE
Story Saved
Live Score
OPEN APP
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Monday, March 04, 2024
Start 14 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Follow Us On