US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, has praised India’s move to investigate the alleged involvement of an Indian official in a thwarted plot to assassinate pro-Khalistani separatist leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun in the United States.
The Indian Ministry of External Affairs confirmed the formation of a high-level probe committee to address the security concerns raised by the US, shedding light on the criminal connections associated with the attempted attack on Pannun.
Blinken, while in Tel Aviv, Israel, commended the Indian government’s decision, stating, “The government announced today that it was conducting an investigation, and that’s good and appropriate, and we look forward to seeing the results.” Responding to inquiries about an unnamed Indian official in a federal US indictment linked to the plot, Blinken emphasized the gravity of the matter, mentioning previous direct discussions with the Indian Government on this issue.
The recent developments unfolded following inputs shared by the US during discussions on India-US security cooperation, highlighting connections among organized criminals, gun traders, and terrorists. These events resurfaced weeks after reports emerged of the US thwarting an assassination attempt on Pannun, a prominent figure advocating Khalistani separatism and associated with the banned outfit SFJ (Sikhs for Justice).
Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, labeled an “individual terrorist” by India, serves as the general counsel for SFJ, deemed an “unlawful association” by India in 2019 for its extremist activities. Pannun aligns with the idea of Khalistan, an independent Sikh homeland from India, drawing concern from New Delhi due to past violent uprisings in the 1970s and 1980s.
India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) registered a case against Pannun, citing charges related to terrorism and conspiracy, primarily for threatening Air India’s global operations in video messages.
This case, against the backdrop of historical events, traces back to the 1985 bombing of an Air India aircraft, an incident attributed to Sikh militants that resulted in 329 fatalities.