U.S. officials have engaged in discussions with their Indian counterparts regarding a reported connection to an assassination plot against Sikh separatist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun on U.S. soil. The U.S. National Security Council (NSC) revealed that the alleged plot, aimed at Pannun, a designated terrorist by India, was disclosed by the Financial Times.
Anonymous sources cited by the FT claimed that U.S. authorities successfully thwarted the murder conspiracy, issuing a warning to the Indian government over its suspected involvement.
The NSC, emphasizing the gravity of the situation, conveyed that the matter has been raised with the Indian government at the highest levels. Adrienne Watson, an NSC spokesperson, stated that Indian counterparts expressed surprise and concern, asserting that such activities were not part of their policy. The NSC disclosed that the Indian government is conducting an internal investigation, with the Biden administration emphasizing the expectation that those responsible should be held accountable.
Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a U.S.-Canadian dual national, heads Sikhs for Justice, advocating for an independent Sikh state called Khalistan. The Indian government, having banned Pannun’s organization in 2019, declared him a terrorist. Recent developments include the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in India registering a case against Pannun for social media posts urging Sikhs to refrain from flying Air India. The FT report did not clarify whether the U.S. protest influenced the abandonment of the alleged plot or if U.S. law enforcement intervention thwarted it.
India acknowledged U.S. officials sharing security concerns, emphasizing the seriousness of such inputs for national security. U.S. federal prosecutors reportedly filed a sealed indictment against at least one suspect in the assassination plot.
This revelation comes just two months after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau alleged credible evidence of Indian government involvement in the murder of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Canada. The Biden administration expressed deep concern, urging a thorough Canadian investigation and calling for Indian cooperation. Pannun, acquainted with Nijjar for two decades, vowed to “avenge” his death, further complicating diplomatic relations between the two nations.