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HomeUSA NewsSikh leader targeted in alleged Indian murder plot receives daily threats: report

Sikh leader targeted in alleged Indian murder plot receives daily threats: report

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THE US Sikh man, who was the intended victim of a purported assassination scheme allegedly orchestrated by an Indian government official, has revealed that he continues to receive hundreds of threats daily, reported The Guardian.

Despite India’s pledge of investigating the murder-for-hire conspiracy, Gurpatwant Singh Pannun remains under the persistent threat of harm, predominantly on social media platforms.

Pannun, a New York-based lawyer, has said that the threats persist since the Department of Justice exposed the plot.

Pannun, a vocal advocate for a separate Sikh state called Khalistan, links the threats to his efforts in organising a Khalistan referendum to liberate Punjab from Indian occupation.

“They want me dead. I know that because I am organizing a Khalistan referendum to liberate Punjab from the Indian occupation,” Pannun was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

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The 56-year-old activist, previously listed as a terrorist by India, faces comparisons on social media to the late Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, further fueling the danger he perceives.

The general was killed in an airstrike ordered by the White House under Donald Trump in 2020.

“They are saying if the US can kill him, why can’t India kill me?” Pannun said.

He advocates for Khalistan through his Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) group, founded in 2007, of which he is general counsel. The group was labelled an “unlawful association” by India in 2019, citing its support for extremist and secessionist activities.

The Sikh leader is best known for his video messages shared on social media, often described as threatening towards Indian leaders and the government, mostly pictured in dark formalwear and white-bearded.

In the aftermath of the foiled assassination plot, interviews with Sikh activists underscore a pervasive sense of unease about their safety and doubts regarding India being held accountable for a campaign of transnational repression.

A group of Indian American members of Congress, including influential supporters of president Joe Biden, have condemned the alleged plot and urges a thorough investigation.

While the lawmakers’ statement acknowledges the gravity of the situation, representatives of American Sikh Gurdwaras and community activists emphasise the need for greater solidarity with Sikh Americans, pointing to a disturbing pattern of violence.

The activists cite the suspicious death of Avtar Singh Khanda, the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, and the attempted assassination of Pannun as part of an alleged international assassination programme directed at Sikhs.

A recent letter from Sikh community leaders underscored the urgency of recognising these acts of violence as a deliberate feature and pattern of Indian foreign policy.

New Delhi listed Pannun as an “individual terrorist” in 2020 for what it said is challenging India’s security by financing violence and issuing appeals to “Punjab-based gangsters and youth” to fight for Khalistan.

An arrest warrant has been issued against him in India, where he was born in the northern state of Punjab.

His popularity has been mainly limited to some sections of the Sikh diaspora abroad, as he organised Khalistan referendums in which he says more than 1.3 million have voted in Britain, Italy, Australia and Canada.

(with inputs from Reuters)

 

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