India On US Alleging Official’s Role In Murder Plot

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New Delhi:

Responding to the US alleging that an Indian official directed an alleged plot to murder US-based Khalistani terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun on American soil, the External Affairs Ministry today said it is a “matter of concern” and reiterated that New Delhi has launched a high-level probe into the charges.

The ministry’s spokesperson Arindam Bagchi was responding to the media’s questions on allegations that an Indian government employee worked with Indian national Nikhil Gupta and others in a plot to assassinate Pannun, who leads Khalistani outfit Sikhs for Justice.

“As regards the case against an individual that has been filed in a US court, allegedly linking him to an Indian official, this is a matter of concern. We have said that this is also contrary to government policy,” Mr Bagchi said.

“The nexus between organised crime, trafficking, gunrunning and extremists at an international level is a serious issue for the law enforcement agencies and organisations to consider and it is for that reason that a high-level inquiry committee has been constituted and we will be guided by its results,” he added.

The MEA spokesperson declined to elaborate further, saying that no further information can be shared on such security matters.

On questions on Canada reiterating its allegation that Indian government agents were involved in the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia, Mr Bagchi said, “In so far as Canada is concerned, we have said that they have consistently given space to anti-India extremists and their violence. And that is actually (at) the heart of the issue. Our diplomatic representatives in Canada have borne the brunt of this. So we expect the government of Canada to live up to its obligations under the Vietnam Convention on diplomatic relations. We have also seen interference by Canadian diplomats in our internal affairs.”

Gupta faces “murder for hire” charges for his participation in the alleged plot to kill Pannun, a US citizen. Gupta was arrested in June in the Czech Republic under an extradition treaty between the US and the Czech Republic.

According to a US Department of Justice statement, documents before a New York court allege that an Indian government employee worked with Gupta and others to hatch a plot to murder Pannun. The statement does not name the government employee.

Amid the developments in the US, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau renewed his charge against New Delhi. “The news coming out of the United States further underscores what we’ve been talking about from the very beginning: which is India needs to take this seriously. The Indian government needs to work with us to ensure that we’re getting to the bottom of this. This is not something that anyone can take lightly,” Trudeau said, according to CBC News report.

Ties between India and Canada have strained since Trudeau brought the serious allegations over the killing of Nijjar. New Delhi has trashed the allegations, calling them “absurd” and “motivated”. In subsequent remarks, India has said it is open to launch an investigation if Canada puts forward evidence to back its allegations.

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