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Gurpatwant Pannun murder plot: Indian National Nikhil Gupta extradited to US from Czech Republic, report says

The US suspects Nikhil Gupta of being involved in a failed conspiracy to assassinate Gurpatwant Pannun, the founder of the pro-Khalistan organization Sikhs For Justice.

Reported by:  PTC News Desk  Edited by:  Annesha Barua -- June 17th 2024 07:57 AM -- Updated: June 17th 2024 08:01 AM
Gurpatwant Pannun murder plot: Indian National Nikhil Gupta extradited to US from Czech Republic, report says

Gurpatwant Pannun murder plot: Indian National Nikhil Gupta extradited to US from Czech Republic, report says

PTC News Desk: According to the federal Bureau of Prisons website and a person familiar with the situation, an Indian man who the United States suspected of taking part in a failed attempt to assassinate a Sikh separatist on American territory was extradited from the Czech Republic to the United States.

U.S. federal prosecutors have charged Nikhil Gupta with arranging the assassination of Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, an American citizen who supported the creation of an independent Sikh state in northern India, in collusion with an officer of the Indian government.

In June of last year, Gupta left India for Prague and was taken into custody by Czech police. His request to stay in the Czech Republic was denied by a Czech court last month, paving the path for his extradition by the minister of justice of the Czech Republic.

On Sunday, the Bureau of Prisons' website allowed users to search for inmates by name and revealed that 52-year-old Gupta was being held at the federal administrative detention prison known as the Metropolitan Detention Center, Brooklyn. Separately, a person with knowledge of the situation who wished to remain anonymous verified Gupta's extradition and incarceration.

A representative for the US Justice Department declined to comment. Jeffrey Chabrowe, Gupta's American lawyer, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The Czech government did not immediately respond either.

The revelation of conspiracies to kill Sikh separatists in the United States and Canada has put Western nations' relations with India to the test as a counterbalance to China's growing worldwide influence. The Indian government disputes any role in the conspiracies.

Canada announced in September that its intelligence services were investigating claims that the assassination of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June 2023 in Canada was related to the Indian government.

Pannun is a citizen of both the United States and Canada. In November, U.S. authorities claimed that an Indian government official was the mastermind behind the plot to kill him. Gupta is said to have been part of the scheme.

Although the extradition was a positive step, Pannun told Reuters on Sunday that "Nikhil Gupta is just a foot soldier." He claimed that senior Indian government officials who follow Prime Minister Narendra Modi's orders were the ones who hired Gupta.

The Indian government has distanced itself from the conspiracy against Pannun, claiming that it goes against official directives. It has declared that it will look into Washington's security concerns in detail.

Because it sees Sikh separatist organizations outside of India as security dangers, New Delhi has long protested about them. The organisations have sustained the Khalistan movement, which calls for the creation of an independent Sikh state outside of India.

Washington stated last month that while it was pleased with India's efforts to guarantee accountability in the alleged plans, many more actions were still required.

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- With inputs from agencies

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