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India is serious about Pannun assassination probe: White House

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The White House has acknowledged India’s seriousness in addressing allegations regarding the assassination plot of Sikh separatist leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun in the US. However, it has refrained from commenting on the FBI probe and the criminal case filed by the Department of Justice.

The remarks by White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Monday came amid an investigative media report claiming that a RAW official identified as Vikram Yadav was involved in the assassination plot of Pannun in the US and the move was approved by the then-Indian spy agency chief Samant Goel.

Pannun is one of the main leaders of the Khalistan movement and the legal advisor and spokesperson for Sikhs for Justice, which aims to promote the idea of a separate Sikh state. The Indian government has declared Pannun a terrorist.

She also stated to the media saying that a criminal investigation is underway by the Department of Justice (DOJ). She also asserted that India is an important strategic partner of the US by saying, “We are pursuing an ambitious agenda to expand our cooperation in several areas.”

“So anything specific to that I would have to refer you to the DOJ,” she said.

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“This is a serious matter and we are taking it seriously,” she stated to the media. The Government of India has been very clear with the US government that they are taking this seriously and will investigate.

The Pannun’s killing is associated with Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Surrey in Canada’s British Columbia province in June last year. Both the killings took place on June 18. That operation was also linked to Yadav, according to Western officials.

A wave of violence was seen in Pakistan after the assassination where at least 11 Sikh and Kashmiri separatists were assassinated as alleged by protestors by the Indian government who were ‘labelled as terrorists’ in the past two years.

Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal said last week, “We have set up a high-level committee. The committee is looking into information that was shared by the American side with us, because they also equally impact our national security.” Whereas, Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said that, ” India’s national security interests are involved in its investigation into the alleged involvement of a government official in the assassination plot aimed at Khalistani extremist Pannun.”

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