US says Indian gov’t official directed plot to assassinate Sikh activist

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Authorities in the United States have said that an Indian government official directed a failed plot to assassinate a Sikh activist on US soil, as they announced charges against a man accused of orchestrating the attempted murder.

On Wednesday, federal prosecutors said that Nikhil Gupta, a 52-year-old Indian man, had worked with an Indian government intelligence and security worker in a clandestine effort to kill a Sikh activist in New York.

Prosecutors did not name the Indian official or the target, but described the target as a critic of the Indian government and an advocate for an independent Sikh state in the Punjab region, home to a large number of Sikhs and once the site of a movement to create Khalistan – a Sikh homeland independent from India.

Gupta was arrested by Czech authorities in June and is awaiting extradition.

“The defendant conspired from India to assassinate, right here in New York City, a US citizen of Indian origin who has publicly advocated for the establishment of a sovereign state for Sikhs,” said Damian Williams, the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan.

Prosecutors said that Gupta allegedly planned to pay an assassin $100,000 to carry out the killing.

The charges have come a week after a senior member of the administration of President Joe Biden said that the US had thwarted a plot to kill a Sikh separatist in the US, and two months after Canadian authorities accused the Indian government of involvement in the assassination of a Sikh activist in Canada.

That official said Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, who says he is a dual citizen of the United States and Canada, was the target of the foiled plot.

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