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India activated back-channel with Joe Biden administration in Pannun massacre conspiracy, US blames Indian national ABPP

New Delhi: India is believed to have held discussions with the United States at the level of National Security Advisors, a day after the US Department of Justice (DOJ) indicted an Indian national named Nikhil Gupta and charged him with ‘murder’. Has activated back-channel negotiations with. Multiple sources told ABP Live that Sikh separatist leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun was ‘hired’ in an apparent attempt to eliminate him.

According to top-level sources, the matter is now being monitored at the “highest level”, even as the NSAs of both countries, Ajit Doval and Jake Sullivan, have been tasked with solving the threat . Derailing the growing bilateral relations between India and the United States.

This came a day after the DOJ announced it had filed murder-for-hire charges against Nikhil Gupta, also known as Nick, “in connection with his participation in a foiled plot to assassinate an American citizen in New York City.” Has come later. While the DOJ has taken Gupta into custody and charged him with serious charges, Pannun has not been named anywhere in the indictment.

“As charged, the defendants conspired from India to murder an American citizen of Indian origin, right here in New York City, who publicly advocated the establishment of a sovereign state for the Sikhs, an ethno-religious minority group in India.” Is of. I am grateful that my office and our law enforcement partners neutralized this deadly and offensive threat. We will not tolerate attempts to assassinate American citizens on American soil and will investigate, thwart and prosecute anyone who tries to harm and silence Americans here or abroad, US Attorney Damien Williams said on Wednesday. Ready to run.

India has taken the matter “very seriously” as it also risks tarnishing the country’s image, especially as it comes close to New Delhi already battling a diplomatic spat with Canada over a similar matter. . The government is believed to be leaving no stone unturned to ensure that the case is handled separately by the DOJ and does not come in the way of the growing strategic ties between India and the US.

“New Delhi is taking this matter with utmost care. This is not like what India is facing with Canada. The US is a very close partner for India and such matters can hamper the progress being made in bilateral relations.” The high-level inquiry committee constituted recently by the Narendra Modi government is being conducted.

Gupta, 52, who is currently in custody, has been charged with murder for hire, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, and conspiracy to commit murder for hire, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. There is provision for. the prison. He was arrested by Czech authorities on June 30 based on the bilateral extradition treaty between the United States and the Czech Republic.

Pannun is the founder of Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) and is wanted in India for promoting the separatist “Sikh referendum” in several countries seeking to create a separate homeland – Khalistan – for the Sikh community.

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Foreign Ministry says, ‘a matter of concern’

Outgoing Foreign Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi on Thursday said the US filing a case against Gupta linking him to an Indian official was “a matter of concern”.

“As far as the case filed in the US court against a person allegedly linked to an Indian official is concerned, it is a matter of concern. We have said, and I want to repeat, that this is also contrary to government policy. The nexus between transnational organized crime, smuggling, gun running and extremists is also a serious issue for law enforcement agencies to consider. This is why a high level investigation committee has been formed. We will clearly be guided by its consequences,” Bagchi told reporters.

He said: “As we have mentioned earlier, during the discussions with the US on bilateral security cooperation, the US side shared some inputs related to the nexus between organized criminals, gun runners, terrorists and others. We take such inputs seriously and a high-level inquiry committee has been constituted to look into all relevant aspects of the matter and necessary follow-up action will be taken based on the findings of the inquiry committee. We cannot share any further information on such security matters.

Bagchi had earlier said, “The issues are already being examined by the relevant departments in the context of US inputs”.

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‘Troubling implications’ for India and America

It was in 2013 when bilateral relations between India and the US faced a major crisis when US authorities arrested Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade on visa fraud charges.

Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Asia Program and senior associate for South Asia at the Washington-based Wilson Center, told ABP Live from Washington that the India-US bilateral relationship is “strong, stable, trust-based and based on strategic convergence.” “Providing adequate insulation for current weather challenges”.

“That said, there will be troubling implications. These allegations have frightened American officials. They will have to grapple in the days to come with the notion of an assassination attempt on American soil by a strategic partner. This will not break trust, but there is a risk of weakening it. More broadly, this development has thrown into sharp relief a fundamental disconnect in a relationship otherwise fraught with convergence: in India’s view, the US does not pay enough attention to what India presents as a dangerous security threat. , “They said.

Meanwhile, adding fuel to the fire, Canada has asked India to cooperate in the investigation into the murder of Khalistani leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar after the US alleged that it carried out an assassination attempt against a Sikh separatist on American soil. Have failed.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday said, “The news coming from the United States further underlines what we have been talking about from the beginning, which is that India needs to take this seriously “

Responding to Trudeau’s statements, Bagchi said: “As far as Canada is concerned, they have consistently given place to anti-India extremists and violence. This is the crux of the issue. Our diplomatic representatives have had to suffer the consequences of this. We therefore expect the Government of Canada to meet its obligations under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. We have also seen interference in our internal affairs. This is clearly unacceptable.”

In the indictment, the US DOJ has clearly linked the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, another Sikh separatist killed in Canada in June this year, with Gupta, who is believed to have shared a video clip of the slain Khalistani activist Was. Nijjar was working with Pannun.

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