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Business News/ News / Pannun murder bid: Antony Blinken welcomes India's probe in alleged murder attempt on Sikh separatist
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Pannun murder bid: Antony Blinken welcomes India's probe in alleged murder attempt on Sikh separatist

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has praised the Indian government's decision to investigate allegations of an Indian official's involvement in a foiled plot to murder pro-Khalistani separatist leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun in the US.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Llyod Austin (not in picture) will be visiting India for 2 plus 2 ministerial dialoguePremium
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Llyod Austin (not in picture) will be visiting India for 2 plus 2 ministerial dialogue

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has called the Indian government's announcement of an investigation into the allegations of an Indian official's involvement in a foiled plot to murder pro-Khalistani separatist leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun in the US as good and appropriate.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) informed that it has decided to set up a high-level probe committee to look into the security concerns shared by the US regarding the criminal nexus and the attempt to murder Pannun.

Also Read: Explained. India's contradictory response on assassination attempt claims of Nijjar, Pannun

While speaking to reporters who were travelling with him in Tel Aviv, Israel, Blinken said, "The government announced today that it was conducting an investigation, and that’s good and appropriate, and we look forward to seeing the results."

Also Read: 'Indian govt can't afford for me to be alive..,' says Gurpatwant Singh Pannun: Report

The Secretary of State was responding to a question on the appearance of an unnamed Indian official in an indictment filed by federal US prosecutors in a Manhattan court on Wednesday along with an Indian national, which the Department of Justice alleges hired someone in the US to assassinate Pannun, a vocal critic of India and espousing the cause of separate Khalistan.

Also Read: Who is Nikhil Gupta, arrested for planning to kill Khalistani leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun in US?

"This is an ongoing legal matter. So you’ll understand I can’t comment on it in detail. I can say that this is something we take very seriously. A number of us have raised this directly with the Indian Government in past weeks," Blinken added.

Indian had earlier informed that US had shared some inputs pertaining to a "nexus between organized criminals, gun runners, terrorists and others" during the course of recent discussions on India-US security cooperation.

The developments comes only weeks after UK-based daily newspaper Financial Times had reported that the US had thwarted an assassination attempt on notorious Khalistani separatist and leader of banned outfit SFJ on American soil.

Who is Gurpatwant Singh Pannun?

Pannun is the general counsel of Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), which India labeled an "unlawful association" in 2019, citing its involvement in extremist activities. Pannun was listed as an "individual terrorist" by India in 2020.

Like Nijjar, Pannun is a proponent of a decades-long but now fringe demand to carve out an independent Sikh homeland from India called Khalistan. New Delhi views this proposal as a security risk because of a violent rebellion that occurred in the 1970s and 1980s.

India's National Investigation Agency (NIA) registered a case against Pannun under charges related to terrorism and conspiracy, among others. It stated he threatened in video messages to not let Air India operate anywhere in the world.

The case comes against the historical backdrop of a bombing in 1985 of an Air India aircraft flying from Canada to India that killed 329, and for which Sikh militants were blamed.

(With inputs from agencies)

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Published: 01 Dec 2023, 06:27 AM IST
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