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DOJ Charges Indian National In Murder-For-Hire Scheme

A foiled murder-for-hire plot led to Justice Department charges against an Indian national for taking part in the scheme on U.S. soil, even though an Indian government employee orchestrated it, NPR reports. The alleged plan was to assassinate a U.S. citizen who is a leader in the Sikh separatist movement. The allegations come just months after Canada accused Indian government agents of murdering a Sikh community leader in British Columbia, raising fresh questions about India's actions abroad and potentially complicating Washington's relationship with New Delhi. Court papers do not identify the intended victim, but Gurpatwant Singh Pannum, the general counsel for Sikhs for Justice, said on X that he was the target.

The man charged with plotting to kill Singh Pannum is 52-year-old Nikhil Gupta, an Indian national and resident who court papers say was previously involved in international narcotics and weapons trafficking. He faces one count of murder for hire, and one count of murder-for-hire conspiracy. U.S. officials say Gupta was arrested in June in the Czech Republic at the U.S.'s request. Gupta is still in the Czech Republic pending his extradition. Adrienne Watson, a spokesperson for the National Security Council, said the Biden administration has "engaged in direct conversations with the Indian government at the highest levels to express our concern." CIA Director Bill Burns and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan had both discussed the alleged plot with their Indian counterparts in recent months and pressed them to hold those responsible accountable.


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