United States: A citizen from India, Nikhil Gupta, faces charges from the United States for allegedly plotting the assassination of a U.S. citizen advocating for a separate Sikh state. The U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan disclosed this information on Wednesday.
Gupta, apprehended by Czech authorities in June, currently awaits extradition while remaining unavailable for comment.
Damian Williams, Manhattan’s top federal prosecutor, stated, “The defendant conspired from India to assassinate a U.S. citizen of Indian origin right here in New York City, someone who publicly advocated for a sovereign state for Sikhs.”
These charges follow revelations from a senior Biden administration official indicating that U.S. authorities foiled a plan to eliminate a Sikh separatist in the country. The official issued a caution to India, expressing concerns over potential involvement by the government in New Delhi.
Although prosecutors did not name the intended victim of Gupta’s alleged scheme, they described the target as a vocal critic of the Indian government. This individual leads a U.S.-based organization advocating for Punjab’s secession from India, home to a significant Sikh population.
As per the indictment, an employee of an Indian government agency, self-identified as a “senior field officer” involved in “security management” and “intelligence,” supposedly orchestrated the plot. This person, identified in the indictment as “CC-1,” claimed past service in India’s Central Reserve Police Force, training in “battle craft,” and proficiency in “weapons.”
Gupta was allegedly recruited by this government employee last May to execute the assassination plan, as per the indictment. Gupta reportedly sought assistance from someone he believed to be a criminal associate to locate a hitman. However, this person turned out to be a confidential source cooperating with the DEA. Gupta was then introduced to an apparent hitman, who was, in reality, a DEA agent.
This incident surfaces just months after Canada implicated Indian agents in the June murder of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in a Vancouver suburb—a claim India vehemently denies.
Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau had earlier stated credible allegations linking the Indian government to Nijjar’s assassination in September, resulting in the expulsion of a high-ranking Indian diplomat by Canada. India reciprocated with a similar measure in response.
Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a Khalistani separatist and a prominent figure organizing the Khalistan referendum, has been a primary advocate. The referendum aims to gauge worldwide Sikh opinion on Punjab’s independence as a sovereign nation based on religious identity. Organizers plan to present the results to the UN General Assembly within the next two years.