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US extradites Indian national for plot to assassinate Khalistani leader Pannun

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The US authorities have extradited Indian national Nikhil Gupta on suspicion of alleged planning of a murder plot of Sikh separatist and founder of a pro-Khalistani outfit ‘Sikhs for Justice’ Gurpatwant Pannun.

According to the federal Bureau of Prisoners website and a source familiar with the matter, Gupta has been extradited to the US from the Czech Republic for suspicions of the Pannun murder plot. Gupta was on a mission to kill the Sikh separatist leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun and has been extradited by the US government.

Gupta travelled to Prague from India last June and was subsequently arrested by Czech authorities. Last month, a Czech court dismissed his petition to avoid extradition to the U.S., paving the way for the Czech justice minister to authorize his extradition.

An inmate search by name on the Bureau of Prisons website on Sunday (16) revealed that Gupta, 52, is currently being held at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, a federal administrative detention facility. A source familiar with the situation, who wished to remain anonymous, also confirmed Gupta’s extradition and his detention in Brooklyn.

A U.S. Justice Department spokesperson declined to comment. Gupta’s U.S.-based lawyer, attorney Jeffrey Chabrowe, had no immediate comment. There was also no immediate comment from Czech authorities.

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The discovery of assassination plots against Sikh separatists in the U.S. and Canada has tested relations with India, seen by Western nations as a counter to China’s rising global influence. India’s government denies involvement in the plots.

Canada said in September its intelligence agencies were pursuing allegations linking India’s government to the murder of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June 2023 in Canada.

In November, U.S. authorities stated that an Indian government official had orchestrated the plot to murder Pannun, a citizen of both the U.S. and Canada. Gupta is accused of being involved in this scheme.

Pannun told Reuters on Sunday that while Gupta’s extradition was a positive development, “Nikhil Gupta is just a foot soldier.” He claimed that those who employed Gupta were senior members of the Indian government acting under the direction of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Indian government has denied any involvement in the plot against Pannun, asserting that such actions are against its policies. It has also pledged to formally investigate the security concerns raised by Washington.

New Delhi has consistently expressed concerns about Sikh separatist groups operating outside India, considering them security threats. These groups continue to advocate for Khalistan, an independent Sikh state to be carved out of India.

Last month, Washington acknowledged India’s efforts to ensure accountability in the alleged plots but emphasized that more steps were necessary.

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