What Indian US Murder Plot Accused Claimed

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New Delhi:

Intercepted at the arrival gate of a exotic country, accosted by grim “American agents”, being bundled into a black SUV and interrogated for three hours as it drives around a foreign city, and having your mobile phone seized (and potential hacked into) – the hallmarks of a classic Hollywood spy thriller.

However, according to the family of Nikhil Gupta – the Indian national accused of attempting to engineer the assassination of Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a Sikh separatist and American-Canadian citizen – this is what happened to him after he landed at the Vaclav Havel Airport in Czechia’s Prague on June 30.

Mr Gupta, 52, moved the Supreme Court Friday – via a family member identified only as Mr X – claiming multiple violations of fundamental rights, including threats to himself and his family, and requested the Indian government to intervene in his extradition to the United States on murder-for-hire charges.

READ | “Approach Czech Court”: Supreme Court On Indian Accused In US Murder Plot

The court adjourned the hearing to January 4.

In the petition, Mr X said Nikhil Gupta had been “approached by certain individuals who identified themselves to be law enforcement” and was detained outside the Prague airport without any reason.

Perhaps the most significant point in the petition was the claim “Czech authorities had not informed the Indian Embassy as to the arrest/detention, or even whereabouts, of the petitioner”, and that consular access – which must be provided if the individual is a foreign citizen – had been delayed nearly 20 days.

Detained In Black SUV

According to the petition, it all began when “… individuals who claimed to be law enforcement officers forcefully made the petitioner sit in an unidentified black SUV… took his phones… attached a device…”

The petition also pointed out the “arrest” was made not at the immigration counter in the airport, as would have been the norm, but after Nikhil Gupta cleared entry formalities, “… when (he) had, in fact, exited Vaclav Havel Airport… meaning this round of questioning in the back of an SUV for three hours was absolutely illegal and against the principles of both international and municipal law”.

It was also argued that claims of an Interpol Red Corner Notice against Mr Gupta were fake because he had not been stopped at any of the previous airports he had visited, including Delhi and Turkey.

Hanover To Local Police

The “American agents” also threatened the petitioner before handing him over to local authorities, when, the petition claimed, he was subject to a medical test that involved collection of blood and biometrics. Mr Gupta was allegedly only told of the charges against him the following morning.

“Subsequently, the petitioner was appointed a defence attorney by the Czech authorities who advised the petitioner… to give his consent to be taken to New York,” Mr X said in the petition.

The petitioner also noted “… this advice was against the best interest of the petitioner and under the undue influence of US agencies who were trying to extradite the petitioner as soon as possible”.

“Forced To Eat Pork, Beef”

According to the petition, in the first 10-11 days of prison, Mr Gupta was offered only pork and beef, which he could not eat as a “devout Hindu and vegetarian”. “Even after authorities were informed, they refused to give him vegetarian food.. was forced to eat food that violates… most basic human rights”.

Could Not Contact Family

Mr Gupta was allegedly also not allowed to contact his family in India. “… petitioner was told by local authorities in Prague (this would be possible) only after US authorities approve of him making calls”.

The first time he was allegedly allowed to meet an Indian official was July 19 – nearly 20 days after his “illegal” detention, and contact with family was only allowed after the Prague High Court intervened.

What Is The Nikhil Gupta Case?

Mr Gupta is accused of trying to hire a hitman to assassinate Pannun, a Khalistani terrorist who holds American-Canadian citizenship. The ‘hitman’ was an undercover US federal agent.

READ | Who Is Nikhil Gupta, Man Charged In Failed Plot To Kill Khalistan Terrorist

Mr Gupta now faces a 20-year jail term if convicted. The US has also accused an Indian government employee, whose identity has been withheld at this time, and have only referred to as CC-1.

READ | Khalistani Terrorist “Wants To Divide India, Create Many Countries”: Sources

Responding to the charges, the External Affairs Ministry had said “India takes such inputs seriously, since they impinge on our national security interests as well, and relevant departments are already examining the issue.” A high-level inquiry committee has been established, the government said.

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