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Gurpatwant Pannun assassination: US in direct talks with India on alleged plan to kill Khalistani leader, says Blinken

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has commented on the indictment of an Indian national, allegedly involved in a plot to assassinate a US-based Khalistani leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun. Blinken, speaking in Tel Aviv, described the matter as a significant ongoing legal case.

The US Justice Department’s indictment points to a murder-for-hire scheme targeting Pannun, a leader of the Khalistan Movement. Blinken remarked that the US had raised this issue with the Indian government over the past weeks. 

“This is something we take very seriously. A number of us have raised this directly with the Indian Government in the 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,” ANI quoted Blinken as saying.

This indictment alleges that an unnamed Indian government employee referred to as CC-1, collaborated with others, including the accused Nikhil Gupta, in this assassination attempt. Gupta, apprehended and now under custody, faces a murder-for-hire charge with a potential ten-year prison sentence. Czech authorities arrested Gupta on June 30 under the bilateral extradition treaty between the US and the Czech Republic.

The alleged assassination plan

The indictment details that earlier in 2023, the Indian government employee allegedly directed a plot from India to assassinate the separatist leader, a US citizen of Indian origin residing in New York City. 

Gupta, under the guidance of CC-1, allegedly contacted someone he believed to be a criminal associate. However, this individual was a confidential source working with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The source introduced Gupta to a supposed hitman, an undercover DEA officer. The Justice Department claims Gupta offered $100,000 for the assassination.

(With ANI inputs)

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Updated: 01 Dec 2023, 10:01 AM IST

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