• Thursday, July 25, 2024

INDIA

Modi government in touch with family of Indian accused in Pannun murder plot in US

Nikhil Gupta’s family thinks he is a victim in the series of events and has failed to establish direct contact with him since his extradition to the US.

Gurpatwant Singh Pannun (Picture: Twitter/@SortedEagle)

By: Shubham Ghosh

THE Indian ministry of external affairs (MEA) on Friday (21) stated that New Delhi is communicating with the family of an Indian national accused of conspiring with an Indian government official to assassinate a Sikh separatist in the United States.

The ministry said this in response to a report by Reuters.

Nikhil Gupta, who was extradited to the US recently from Prague in the Czech Republic where he was arrested last year, has been accused by America’s federal prosecutors of plotting the assassination of Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, who holds the citizenship of the US and Canada, with an Indian official.

The 52-year-old Gupta pleaded not guilty earlier this week to murder-for-hire conspiracy charges in a court in Manhattan.

Read: Pannun murder plot: Indian national pleads not guilty in US court

According to a source close to his family that spoke to Reuters on Thursday (20), it sought New Delhi’s help to “get justice”.

No consular access from Gupta, says foreign ministry

Speaking to reporters, Randhir Jaiswal, spokesperson of the MEA, said they have not got any request for consular access from Gupta but confirmed that the latter’s family was in touch with them.

“We are in touch with the family members and we are looking at the matter as to what can be done on their request,” he added.

Read: Pannun case: Czech court rejects Gupta’s petition against US extradition

The US administration has reported preventing the purported conspiracy to assassinate Pannun and cautioned India regarding its suspected involvement.

India has labeled Pannun as an “individual terrorist” but has disavowed any connection to the alleged scheme, asserting it contradicts government policies. Pannun is an advocate for a sovereign Sikh state in northern India.

The source, which spoke on the condition of anonymity die to the sensitive nature of a case that has diplomatic implications, had said Gupta’s family has failed to establish direct contact with him since his extradition, Reuters added.

“Regardless of the allegations raised against him, he is an Indian citizen and a patriot who deserves the rights and protections granted by the government to its citizens.”

The source added that the family believed Gupta “is a victim in this series of events” but that “he will get justice”.

(With Reuters inputs)

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