(MENAFN) In a significant development, an Indian national, Nikhil Gupta, has been charged in New York for allegedly conspiring to assassinate Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a prominent leader of Sikhs for Justice—a New York-based group advocating for an independent Sikh state within India. The charges were unveiled on Wednesday, revealing a plot uncovered by a consortium of law enforcement officers initially working on an undercover drug case.
Gupta is accused of orchestrating the murder-for-hire plot, reportedly paying a hitman to carry out the assassination. The allegations surfaced after a separate Sikh separatist, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, was killed in Canada. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)-led task force stumbled upon Gupta's scheme during their investigations, leading to the exposure of the conspiracy.
Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, the intended target, is a U.S. citizen of Indian origin and a vocal advocate for the establishment of a sovereign state for Sikhs, an ethnoreligious minority group in India. U.S. Attorney Damian Williams emphasized the seriousness of the allegations, stating, "We will not tolerate efforts to assassinate U.S. citizens on U.S. soil, and stand ready to investigate, thwart, and prosecute anyone who seeks to harm and silence Americans here or abroad."
The case adds a layer of complexity to the already sensitive issue of Sikh separatism and its impact on international relations. Notably, a similar incident in Canada, where Hardeep Singh Nijjar was killed, resulted in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accusing New Delhi, creating an international incident. As this unfolds, the legal proceedings against Nikhil Gupta will likely shed light on the intricacies of the alleged plot and its potential implications for diplomatic relations.
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