US levels murder-for-hire charges against Indian national for foiled assassination of Khalistani leader Pannun


Our Bureau

New York, NY

The US Attorney’s Office announced the filing of murder-for-hire charges against Indian national Nikhil Gupta in connection with his participation in a foiled plot to assassinate Khalistani leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun. A release from the US Attorney’s office said that Czech authorities arrested and detained Gupta on 30 June 2023.

An administrator of the US’ Drug Enforcement Agency Anne Milgram said that DEA stopped the plot at a time where “a foreign government employee allegedly committed the brazen act of recruiting an international narcotics trafficker to murder” Pannun, a US citizen. Pannun was born in Khankot village of Amritsar, Punjab. As of 2023, he described himself as a dual citizen of the United States and Canada.

Nikhil Gupta, 52, has been charged with murder-for-hire, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, and conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Matthew G. Olsen said.

According to US authorities, Gupta agreed to pay an assassin USD 100,000 to kill the Sikh separatist leader living in New York City.

“The defendant conspired from India to assassinate, right here in New York City, a US citizen of Indian origin who has publicly advocated for the establishment of a sovereign state for Sikhs,” Damian Williams, the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan, said in a statement.

The charges come after a senior Biden administration official last week said US authorities had thwarted a plot to kill a Sikh separatist in the US.  The US sent its two top intelligence officials to India to press for an investigation into an alleged plot to assassinate a Sikh separatist leader on American soil earlier this year and hold to account those responsible, an influential American media outlet reported on Wednesday, citing senior administration officials. The report came on a day when India said that it has constituted a high-level enquiry committee to probe allegations relating to a conspiracy to kill the Sikh extremist on American soil.

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