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Matter of concern, contrary to govt's policy: India reacts to US in SFJ's Pannun case

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Matter of concern, contrary to govt's policy: India reacts to US in SFJ's Pannun case

MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said, “As we have informed earlier, during the course of discussions with the US on bilateral security cooperation, the US side shared some inputs pertaining to nexus between organised criminals, gun runners, terrorists and others. We take such inputs seriously, and a high-level Enquiry Committee has been constituted to look into all the relevant aspects of the matter and necessary follow-up action will be taken based on the findings of the Enquiry Committee.

“We cannot share any further information on such security matters,” Bagchi said.

He said that 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, and let me reiterate, that this is also contrary to the government policy,” the MEA official said.

Bagchi said, “The nexus between organised crime, trafficking, gun running and extremists at an international level is also a serious issue for law enforcement agencies to consider. It is precisely for this reason that a high-level Enquiry Committee has been constituted. We will obviously be guided by its results.”

The remarks from the MEA came after the US prosecutors on Wednesday announced murder-for-hire charges against Indian national Nikhil Gupta for involvement in a foiled plot to assassinate a US citizen allegedly on behalf of an Indian government employee.

Gupta was arrested by Czech authorities on June 30 in response to a request by the US under an extradition treaty, according to a statement issued by the office of the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams.

The charges were announced in a superseding indictment unsealed on Wednesday.

Gupta, who is a resident of India, is alleged to be involved in international narcotics and weapons trafficking.

The indictment describes him as an associate of an Indian government employee who has not been identified by name, but is allegedly an Indian government agency employee who, the US Attorney’s office has said, has variously described himself as a “Senior Field Officer” with responsibilities in “Security Management” and “Intelligence”, and who also has referenced previously serving in India’s Central Reserve Police Force and receiving “officer training” in “battle craft” and “weapons”.

This employee has been called “CC-1” in the indictment, which alleged he “was employed at all times relevant to the indictment by the Indian government, resides in India, and directed the assassination plot from India”.

The target of the assassination plot has also not been identified in the indictment. But he has been described as a lawyer who has been advocating secession of Punjab and that he has been a strident critic of the Indian government.

The man is Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a New York resident who heads an organisation called SFJ. “As alleged, 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, an ethno-religious minority group in India,” said US Attorney Williams.

–Ajit Weekly News

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