Pannun ‘assassination’ plot: US says ‘expect India’s accountability’ amid report on RAW official’s involvement

India has denied these allegations as ‘unsubstantiated’ and said an investigation into the matter was already in progress. The Washington Post reported, attributed to unnamed sources, claimed RAW officer Vikram Yadav was involved in a foiled plot to ‘assassinate’ Pannun.

Livemint
Updated1 May 2024
File image of alleged Khalistani terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun
File image of alleged Khalistani terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun (AP)

A United States State Department official said the country is “regularly working” with India in its probe regarding allegations surrounding a plot to “assassinate” Sikh separatist leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, PTI reported.

The remarks by US State Department Principal Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel came in response to claims made by The Washington Post, in a report attributed to unnamed sources, regarding a Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) officer's involvement in the alleged plot on American soil last year, it added.

“We continue to expect accountability from the Government of India based on the results of the Indian inquiry committee’s work, and we are regularly working with them and enquiring for additional updates," Patel told reporters.

Asked about The Washington Post report, which named the RAW officer as Vikram Yadav and implicated him in the purported plot to “assassinate” Pannun, Patel responded, “We’ll also continue to raise our concerns directly with the Indian Government at senior levels, but beyond that, I’m not going to parse into this further and will defer to the Department of Justice.”

India rejects claims

India vehemently dismissed the allegations on April 30, asserting that the the Post report contained baseless assertions on a grave issue. Indian officials said a thorough investigation was already in progress.

External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal slammed the report by the Post stating: “There is an ongoing investigation of the high-level committee set up by the Government of India to look into the security concerns shared by the US government on networks of organised criminals, terrorists and others. Speculative and irresponsible comments on it are not helpful.”

What is the Pannun plot case?

In November 2023, US federal prosecutors pressed charges against Indian national Nikhil Gupta for his alleged involvement in a abortive bid to “assassinate” Pannun.

Pannun, who is wanted in India on terrorism charges, holds citizenship in both the US and Canada. The Union Home Ministry has classified him as a terrorist under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

The revelation about the foiled “assassination plot” against Pannun emerged shortly after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau alleged potential Indian involvement in the killing of Khalistani separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar on June 18 in British Columbia. These claims were strongly refuted by Indian authorities.

Addressing the issue in Parliament on December 7, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar disclosed that India had launched an inquiry committee to examine the information provided by the US regarding the Pannun case.

(With inputs from PTI)

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