US charges Indian national with conspiracy to assassinate Sikh separatist


  • World
  • Wednesday, 29 Nov 2023

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The United States has charged an Indian national with conspiring to assassinate a U.S. citizen who advocated for a sovereign state for Sikhs, the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan said on Wednesday.

Nikhil Gupta was arrested by Czech authorities in June and is awaiting extradition. He could not be reached for comment.

"The defendant conspired from India to assassinate, right here in New York City, a U.S. citizen of Indian origin who has publicly advocated for the establishment of a sovereign state for Sikhs," Damian Williams, the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan, said in a statement.

The charges come after a senior Biden administration official last week said U.S. authorities had thwarted a plot to kill a Sikh separatist in the United States and issued a warning to India over concerns the government in New Delhi was involved.

The official said Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, who says he is a dual citizen of the United States and Canada, was the target of the foiled plot.

Prosecutors did not name the target of Gupta's alleged plot, who they described as a vocal critic of the Indian government who leads a U.S.-based organization that advocates for the secession of India's Punjab state, which is home to a large population of Sikhs.

News of the incident comes two months after Canada said there were "credible" allegations linking Indian agents to the June murder of a Sikh separatist leader, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, in a Vancouver suburb, something India has rejected.

(Reporting by Luc Cohen; Writing by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Susan Heavey, Chizu Nomiyama and Mark Porter)

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