Top US official in India, discusses alleged plot to kill SFJ's Gurpatwant Singh Pannun
Jon Finer led a US delegation to India where he noted the formation of a panel by New Delhi to probe a foiled plot to kill Pannun, White House said.
US principal deputy national security advisor (NSA) Jon Finer led a delegation to India on Monday where he noted the formation of an investigative panel by New Delhi to probe an alleged foiled plot to kill Sikh separatist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun on US soil, the White House said.
"Mr. Finer acknowledged India's establishment of a Committee of Enquiry to investigate lethal plotting in the United States and the importance of holding accountable anyone found responsible," the White House said in a statement on Monday.
Last week, the US Justice Department alleged that an Indian government official directed an unsuccessful plot to assassinate Pannun, the leader of banned Sikhs for Justice, on US soil, while it announced charges against a man accused of orchestrating the attempted murder. Pannun is a dual citizen of the United States and Canada.
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.
In response, the ministry of external affairs (MEA) expressed concern about one of its government officials being linked to the plot, from which it dissociated itself, as being against government policy.
India said last week it would formally investigate the concerns aired by the US, and take "necessary follow-up action" on the findings of a panel set up on Nov. 18.
News of the incident came two months after Canada said there were "credible" allegations linking Indian agents to the June murder of another Khalistani terrorist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar, in a Vancouver suburb, a contention India has rejected.
US President Joe Biden, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, CIA director Bill Burns and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have discussed this issue with their Indian counterparts in recent weeks.
The issue is highly delicate for both India and the US as they try to build closer ties in the face of an ascendant China perceived as a threat for both democracies.
The Indian government has long complained about the presence of Sikh separatist groups outside India. India views them as security threats. The groups have kept alive the movement for Khalistan, or the demand for an independent Sikh state to be carved out of India.
Finer met Indian foreign minister S Jaishankar and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval. They also discussed developments in the Middle East, including the Israel-Hamas war, plans for a post-war Gaza and recent attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea, the White House said on Monday.