Ties with India may suffer ‘serious damage’ if allegations in Pannun case are not addressed, say U.S. lawmakers

An indictment has alleged a plot to kill Khalistani separatist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a U.S. citizen, in New York earlier this year

December 15, 2023 11:46 pm | Updated December 16, 2023 11:38 am IST

Sikh separatist leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun is pictured in his office. File.

Sikh separatist leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun is pictured in his office. File. | Photo Credit: AP

A group of influential U.S. Democratic lawmakers, who are supporters of the India-U.S. relationship, have said that bilateral ties could face “serious damage” if the U.S. attorney’s allegations against an unnamed Indian official and Indian citizen Nikhil Gupta in a murder-for-hire plot were not addressed.

An indictment from the Southern District of New York on November 29 alleged that these individuals had plotted to kill Khalistani separatist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a U.S. citizen, in New York earlier this year. The lawmakers described the allegations as “deeply concerning” as they stated that their top priority was the safety of their constituents. 

Also read | A dark shadow on New Delhi’s credibility

“We believe the U.S.-India partnership has made meaningful impact on the lives of both of our people, but we are concerned that the actions outlined in the indictment could, if not appropriately addressed, cause significant damage to this very consequential partnership,” the members of the Congress said in a statement on Friday, after receiving a classified briefing on the case on Wednesday.

Group welcomes probe

New Delhi has launched a probe into the matter, which the lawmakers welcomed.

The signatories of the Congressional statement were Ami Bera, Pramila Jayapal, Ro Khanna, Raja Krishnamoorthi and Shri Thanedar. Mr. Khanna is a co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans. Mr. Bera is the ranking member of a House of Representatives subcommittee on the Indo-Pacific. All the signatories are active in India-U.S. related initiatives.

While one of the accused, Mr. Gupta, has garnered much attention having been arrested in Prague and facing extradition to the U.S., less is known about the other accused, an unnamed Indian government official, described as ‘CC-1’ in the indictment.

Friday’s statement calls for government officials to also be held to account. “... It is critical that India fully investigate, hold those responsible, including Indian government officials, accountable, and provide assurances that this will not happen again,” the statement said.

Alleged plot to kill Pannun | Where do India-U.S. relations stand? | Worldview with Suhasini Haidar
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