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“Unwarranted, unsubstantiated imputations”: India slams US media report on alleged plot to kill Gurpatwant Singh Pannun

The Ministry of External Affairs has rejected a report in The Washington Post naming Indian Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) official’s involvement in the alleged post to kill Khalistani terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun in the US.

Describing it as an “unwarranted and unsubstantiated” imputation on a “serious matter” that is under investigation, MEA official spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal on Monday said the US media report was “speculative and irresponsible”.

In response to media queries on the report that appeared in Washington Post, a US national daily, Jaiswal said that a high-level committee set up by the Indian government is carrying out an investigation into the security concerns shared by the US government on networks of organized criminals, terrorists, and others.

“The report in question makes unwarranted and unsubstantiated imputations on a serious matter. There is an ongoing investigation of the High-Level Committee set up by the Government of India to look into the security concerns shared by the US government on networks of organised criminals, terrorists and others. Speculative and irresponsible comments on it are not helpful.”

Citing officials and a US indictment, the Washington Post report claimed that the RAW official, identified as Vikram Yadav, had directed Indian businessman Nikhil Gupta, now in custody in the Czech Republic pending extradition to the US to stand trial in the case, to hire a hitman to kill GS Pannun outside his New York residence. As per the report in the US daily, the operation targeting Pannun was approved by then-RAW chief Samant Goel.

Gurpatwant Singh 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 Pannun.

The US Justice Department has 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.

Reacting to the US Justice Department’s indictment in November 2023, the Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson had said, “We cannot share any further information on such security matters. As regards the case against an individual that has been filed in a US court allegedly linking him to an Indian official, this is a matter of concern. We have said and let me reiterate that this is contrary to government policy.”

“The nexus between organised crime, trafficking and gun running and extremists at an international level is a serious issue for law enforcement agencies and organisations to consider and it is precisely for that reason that a high-level committee has been constituted and we will obviously be guided by its results” the spokesperson said.

(ANI)

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