Nikhil Gupta finds himself entangled in a global conspiracy, arrested for allegedly orchestrating an assassination plot targeting a prominent Sikh leader, Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, on US soil. The 52-year-old Indian man, apprehended in the Czech Republic in June, faces charges related to planning the murder of a US citizen advocating for Sikh sovereignty.
According to federal prosecutor Damian Williams, Gupta conspired from India to eliminate a vocal critic of the Indian government, with the plot unfolding in New York City. While not explicitly naming the target, US officials identify him as Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, the leader of Sikhs for Justice, a pro-Khalistan group advocating for an independent Sikh state.
The intrigue deepens with the involvement of an unnamed Indian government employee, described as a senior field officer in security and intelligence. Allegedly recruiting Gupta for the assassination, this individual, in dealings facilitated by Gupta, agreed to pay an undercover US agent $100,000 for the killing.
This revelation raises diplomatic tensions, echoing a similar incident in Canada involving the killing of Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar. The US, expressing serious concern, underscores the gravity of the allegations in discussions with Indian authorities.
Gupta, who believed he had secured a hitman for the task, unknowingly engaged with an undercover US agent. He previously advised delaying the assassination during high-level meetings between US and Indian government officials. The charges against Gupta encompass two counts of murder-for-hire and murder-for-hire conspiracy, carrying a potential prison sentence of up to 20 years if convicted.
This case not only spotlights an alleged international assassination plot but also underscores the complexities surrounding separatist movements and diplomatic repercussions on the global stage.