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U.S. Senators Seek Action Over Alleged Indian Plot to Assassinate American Citizen

June 24, 2024 | By

Washington, D.C.: A group of U.S. Senators has called for a strong diplomatic response to allegations of an Indian government plot to assassinate an American citizen on U.S. soil. In a joint letter dated 17th of June 2024, addressed to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Senators Jeffrey Merkley, Chris Van Hollen, Tim Kaine, Bernard Sanders, and Ron Wyden expressed “deep concern about credible allegations” and demanded accountability for those involved.

The issue centers on the November 2023 indictment of Nikhil Gupta, an Indian citizen, for his involvement in a foiled assassination attempt targeting Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a Sikh activist, who has citizenship of USA and Canada. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) thwarted the plot, which was reportedly orchestrated by an unnamed Indian government official. Nikhil Gupta’s indictment revealed that there were additional targets, including Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Canadian citizen and Sikh activist who was murdered in Canada in June 2023.

Gurpatwant Singh Pannun(L), Hardeep Singh Nijjar (R) | File Photo

The senators’ letter highlights the broader implications of the incident for U.S.-India relations, which span security, trade, and cultural ties. “As the two largest democracies in the world, this partnership must not only be based on mutual strategic interests, but also grounded in shared commitment to democratic principles and the rule of law,” the letter states, emphasizing the importance of respecting sovereignty and individual rights and freedoms that are fundamental to any democracy.

Assistant Secretary of State Donald Lu previously informed the House Foreign Affairs Committee that the Biden Administration had addressed the issue “at the highest levels with India.” Despite this, the response from the Indian government has been mixed. A panel was set up to investigate, but a Bloomberg report from March 2024 indicated that the probe concluded rogue operatives were involved, with at least one person removed from the intelligence agency but not facing criminal prosecution.

The senators criticized this outcome, insisting on more decisive actions. ‘The Administration must match words with actions to hold Indian officials involved in the plot accountable,’ they wrote, urging the U.S. government to “take an unequivocal stand against such a threat to the rights of a U.S. citizen and violation of U.S. sovereignty”.

The letter also suggests leveraging the recent Indian general elections, which saw Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party retain power, as an opportunity to press for accountability. “Now that India’s 2024 general election has concluded, the United States has an opportunity to include this issue as a core agenda item with the Indian government,” the letter advises.

In closing, the senators stressed the necessity of opposing transnational repression regardless of the perpetrator, reinforcing that such actions are incompatible with India’s aspirations for global leadership.

Read Full Text of Letter:




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