‘Matter of concern,’ India on US indicting Indian national Nikhil Gupta in ‘plot to kill’
MEA Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi raises concerns over Canada's support for anti-India extremists and calls for adherence to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi on Thursday said that the case against an individual that has been filed in a US court, allegedly linking him to an Indian official, is a ‘matter of concern’.
He added, “The nexus between organised crime, trafficking, gunrunning and extremists at an international level is a serious issue for the law enforcement agencies and organisations to consider and it is for that reason that a high-level inquiry committee has been constituted and we will be guided by its results."
Earlier on November 29, United States authorities charged an Indian government-hired official with murder-for-hire charges for an attempt to kill Khalistani separatist and leader of banned Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) outfit Gurpatwant Singh Pannun on American soil.
The United States considers the 52-year-old Indian individual, arrested in the Czech Republic in June, to be a key figure in a plot to assassinate a Sikh leader on US soil. Identified as Gupta, he faces charges related to the conspiracy to murder a US citizen of Indian origin.
As reported by ANI, Gupta is currently in custody and has been charged with murder-for-hire, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. Czech authorities had arrested and detained Gupta on June 30, pursuant to the bilateral extradition treaty between the United States and the Czech Republic.
The US Justice Department claimed that Gupta, is an associate of CC-1, and has described his involvement in international narcotics and weapons trafficking in his communications with CC-1. The indictment claims CC -1 directed the assassination plot from India.
The US Justice Department claimed that in or about May 2023, CC-1 recruited Gupta to orchestrate the assassination of the activist in the United States. At CC-1's direction, Gupta contacted an individual whom he believed to be a criminal associate, but who was in fact a confidential source working with the DEA. The source it is alleged introduced Gupta to a purported hitman, who was a DEA undercover officer.
Bagchi further noted, “In so far as Canada is concerned, we have said that they have consistently given space to anti-India extremists and that is actually the heart of the issue. Our diplomatic representatives in Canada have borne the brunt of this."
Bagchi added, “So, we expect the Government of Canada to live up to its obligations under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. We have also seen interference by Canadian diplomats in our internal affairs and that is unacceptable."
Earlier in the day, Canada urged India to collaborate in the inquiry into the killing of a Khalistani terrorist in British Columbia.
As reported by Reuters, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa, “The news coming out of the United States further underscores what we've been talking about from the very beginning, which is that India needs to take this seriously," adding, “The Indian government needs to work with us to ensure that we're getting to the bottom of this."
Earlier, Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly called on India to provide more cooperation in the ongoing murder investigation. As of now, Canadian authorities have not filed charges against anyone in connection with the killing of Nijjar.
Earlier on November 26, Sanjay Kumar Verma, India's High Commissioner to Canada, stated that the Indian government is collaborating with an American inquiry related to an alleged foiled assassination attempt, rather than Canada's investigation into the June killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Surrey, British Columbia due disparities in the information shared between the two nations during their respective investigations.
(With inputs from agencies)
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