US awaiting results of Pannun inquiry

Miller noted that they have raised the issue with the Indian government and told them that the US expects full investigation into the matter…reports Asian Lite News

The US says it will look forward to the results of the investigation being conducted by India into the alleged plot to kill India-designated terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said on Wednesday (local time).

While addressing a press briefing, Miller noted that they have raised the issue with the Indian government and told them that the US expects full investigation into the matter.

Asked about the US State Department’s response after the members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee wrote a letter to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken calling for a strong diplomatic response on the Indian government’s involvement in the assassination attempt on Pannun, Miller responded, “So, we will respond to those members privately, as we always do. I won’t speak to that here. But as pertains to the other issue, when this issue first arose, we made clear that we had raised it with the Government of India and told them that we expected there to be a full investigation. They have announced that they are conducting an inquiry, and we will look forward to the results of that inquiry.”

Indian national Nikhil Gupta is accused of being involved in the alleged failed murder plot of India-designated pro-Khalistani terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun. Earlier this month, he was been extradited from the Czech Republic to the US to stand trial, NBC News reported.

The US Justice Department has alleged that Gupta (52) is an associate of the Indian government and that together they and others helped plot the assassination of Pannun in New York City, NBC News reported.

Pannun is an India-designated terrorist who holds American and Canadian citizenship. Earlier in November, the US Justice Department unsealed an indictment against an Indian national for his alleged involvement in a foiled plot to assassinate a US-based leader of the Sikh Separatist Movement and a citizen in New York.

The Justice Department claimed that an Indian government employee (named CC-1), who was not identified in the indictment filed in a federal court in Manhattan, recruited an Indian national named Nikhil Gupta to hire a hitman to carry out the assassination, which was foiled by US authorities, according to prosecutors.

The charges contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty, the Justice Department stated in a release.

India in November last year formed a high-level inquiry committee to address the security concerns highlighted by the US government. The Ministry of External Affairs said that India takes such inputs seriously since they impinge on national security interests as well, and relevant departments were already examining the issue.

On Wednesday, US Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell said that India has been responsive to its concerns on the alleged overseas plot to kill pro-Khalistani terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun and there has been constructive dialogue between the two countries.

Addressing an online briefing on Wednesday, he said that the US has consistently asked for updates on the Indian Committee of Inquiry’s investigations to look into the security concerns shared by Washington.

“We have had a constructive dialogue with India on this topic and I would say that they have been responsive to our concerns. We’ve made clear that we seek accountability from the Government of India and we have consistently asked for updates on the Indian Committee of Inquiry’s investigations. I would just simply say that we raised this issue directly with the Indian government…at the most senior levels between our two sides,” he said.

The US official said that India is looking carefully at the necessary potential institutional reforms.”I don’t have anything further to add to what I already said. I will say that we also believe that Indian colleagues are looking carefully at what potential institutional reforms might be necessary,” Campbell said.

“In the wake of some of these allegations and reports that you described, so look those discussions continue between the United States and India and I think anything further is likely to come through law enforcement channels,” he added. (ANI)

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