Congress Members Warn of Strained India-US Ties over Pannun Murder Plot

Web DeskDecember 17, 2023
Congress Members Warn of Strained India-US Ties over Pannun Murder Plot

Indian-American members of the US Congress have commended the Biden administration for conducting a classified briefing on the indictment of Indian intelligence agent Nikhil Gupta and a thwarted murder-for-hire plot against US citizen and Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) pro-Khalistan leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun.

Representatives such as Ami Bera, Pramila Jayapal, Ro Khanna, Raja Krishnamoorthi, and Shri Thanedar expressed their constitutional duty to protect citizens and called for a thorough investigation by the Government of India. They raised concerns about potential harm to the US-India partnership if the issue is not appropriately addressed.

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The US Department of Justice charged Gupta for attempting to murder Pannun in New York City, allegedly hired by an unnamed Indian government employee. Pannun welcomed the support from US Congress members, emphasizing the importance of upholding the constitutional duty to protect the life and freedom of US citizens. The Congress members urged India to conduct a thorough investigation, hold those responsible accountable, and prevent similar incidents in the future. They also expressed concerns that the actions described in the indictment could harm the US-India partnership if not addressed appropriately.

This incident occurred following the killing of Canadian citizen Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia, a close aide of Pannun and leader of the Khalistan Referendum campaign in Canada. The US District Court for the Southern District of New York revealed that Gupta was hired by an unnamed Indian government employee to kill “an attorney and political activist who is a US citizen of Indian origin.” The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) expressed alarm over India’s increased transnational targeting of religious minorities and advocates, urging the US Department of State to designate India as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) due to ongoing violations of religious freedom. USCIRF Commissioner Stephen Schneck called on the Biden administration to acknowledge India’s perpetration of severe religious freedom violations and designate it as a CPC. The USCIRF highlighted transnational repression campaigns targeting activists, journalists, and minority groups, citing the alleged Indian government involvement in Nijjar’s killing and the plot against Pannun.

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