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Plot-to-kill: Biden admin briefs Indian-American lawmakers on Nikhil Gupta

Washington, Dec 16 (IANS) Indian-American Congressmen were briefed by US President Joe Biden’s administration on the indictment of Indian national Nikhil Gupta, allegedly involved in a foiled bid to kill a Sikh separatist leader in the US.

Releasing a statement, the five lawmakers — Ami Bera, Shri Thanedar, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Pramila Jayapal and Ro Khanna — appreciated the administration’s move in providing them a classified briefing on Gupta’s indictment.

“We appreciate the Administration providing us a classified briefing on the Department of Justice’s indictment of Nikhil Gupta, which alleges that an Indian government official engaged in a murder-for-hire plot of an American citizen,” they said in the statement.

“As members of Congress, the safety and well-being of our constituents is our most important priority. The allegations made in the indictment are deeply concerning.”

The lawmakers also welcomed India’s efforts in announcing a Committee of Enquiry to fully investigate the murder plot.

“…it is critical that India fully investigate, hold those responsible, including Indian government officials, accountable, and provide assurances that this will not happen again,” they said.

New Delhi had reacted to the US indictment of an Indian individual in a plot-to-kill charge, and said it is a “matter of concern” and also “contrary to the government policy”.

The lawmakers further said that failing to address the matter ‘appropriately’ is likely to cause a dent in the bilateral relations that have strengthened over the years.

“We believe the US-India partnership has made a meaningful impact on the lives of both of our people, but we are concerned that the actions outlined in the indictment could, if not appropriately addressed, cause significant damage to this very consequential partnership,” the statement said.

US prosecutors have announced murder-for-hire charges against 52-year-old Gupta for involvement in a foiled plot to assassinate US citizen Gurpatwant Singh Pannun allegedly on behalf of an Indian government employee.

New York-based Pannun, who was not named in the indictment, is a designated terrorist in India and the legal counsel of banned Khalistan group, Sikhs For Justice.

Gupta, incarcerated in a prison in Prague, was arrested by Czech authorities on June 30 in response to a request by the US under an extradition treaty.

He faces a 20-year jail term if convicted of the murder-for-hire and conspiracy charges.

The US has also accused an Indian government employee, whose identity has been withheld at this time.

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