News Brief

Pannun 'Killing' Plot: Indian National Nikhil Gupta Pleads Not Guilty In US Federal Court — All About It

Kuldeep Negi

Jun 18, 2024, 09:12 AM | Updated 09:12 AM IST

Khalistani terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannum
Khalistani terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannum

Nikhil Gupta, an Indian national accused of being involved in a murder-for-hire plot targeting a Khalistani terrorist on American soil, pleaded not guilty in a US federal court on Monday (17 June).

Gupta, 53, who also goes by the name Nick, was extradited to the United States from the Czech Republic on 14 June, following his arrest on 30 June 2023, at the request of the US government.

The charges against him include conspiring to assassinate Gurpatwant Singh Pannun in New York.

Attorney General Merrick Garland emphasised the seriousness of the charges, stating, "This extradition makes clear that the Justice Department will not tolerate attempts to silence or harm American citizens."

"Nikhil Gupta will now face justice in an American courtroom for his involvement in an alleged plot, directed by an employee of the Indian government, to target and assassinate a US citizen for his support of the Sikh separatist movement in India," he added, news agency PTI reported.

Gupta, facing charges of murder-for-hire and conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire, could be sentenced to a maximum of 10 years in prison for each charge if convicted.

US federal prosecutors alleged that Gupta hired a hitman and paid $415,000 in advance to kill Pannun.

They further claim that an unnamed Indian government official was involved in the plot.

Gupta’s extradition came ahead of the visit of US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan to New Delhi for the annual ICET dialogue. The issue is expected to be discussed during Sullivan's meeting with his Indian counterpart, Ajit Doval.

India has denied any involvement in the case and has launched an investigation into the allegations.

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Kuldeep is Senior Editor (Newsroom) at Swarajya. He tweets at @kaydnegi.

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