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India slams Washington Post for ‘irresponsible’ report

The newspaper revealed details of an investigation into an alleged murder attempt on a New York-based Sikh activist

New Delhi has slammed the Washington Post for “speculative and irresponsible” reporting regarding India’s alleged links to the attempted murder of Sikh activist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun in New York last year.

Pannun heads Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), a group that advocates the secession of Khalistan from India, and has been outlawed by New Delhi.

On Monday, the newspaper named the Indian agent who is alleged to have orchestrated the assassination attempt. It cited current and former US and Indian security officials in the report. The agent was identified as Vikram Yadav, an officer attached to the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) – India’s foreign intelligence service.

According to the Washington Post, Yadav’s identity and affiliation “provide the most explicit evidence” that the assassination plot had been “directed from within the Indian spy service.” It also alleged that higher-ranking RAW officials have also been “implicated” as part of the ongoing investigation by the CIA, FBI, and other agencies. The probe “has mapped potential links to [Indian Prime Minister Narendra] Modi’s inner circle,” the report claimed.

The Indian Foreign Ministry issued a stern response on Tuesday following the publication of the report, claiming that it contained “unwarranted and unsubstantiated imputations on a serious matter.”

It noted that New Delhi has set up a high-level committee to probe “security concerns” shared by the US relating to “networks of organized criminals, terrorists, and others. “Speculative and irresponsible comments on it are not helpful,” the ministry added.

Asked about the report, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the US Department of Justice was conducting a criminal investigation regarding the alleged murder attempt.

”This is a serious matter and we are taking that very, very seriously. The government of India has been very clear with us that they are taking this seriously and will investigate,” she said.

Last November, US federal prosecutors charged an unnamed Indian national for allegedly participating in a foiled plot to assassinate the Sikh separatist. According to the charges, New Delhi businessman Nikhil Gupta tried to hire a hitman to carry out the assassination. Gupta is being held in the Czech Republic and is awaiting extradition to the US.

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi applauds during a joint press conference with U.S. President Joe Biden at the White House on June 22, 2023 in Washington, DC.
Modi reacts to US charges over Khalistan activist murder plot

A Bloomberg report last month claimed that an ongoing Indian investigation into the US claims had found that unauthorized agents were involved in the assassination attempt.

The attempted murder of Pannun has been linked to the assassination of Hardeep Singh Nijjar – another prominent Sikh separatist – in Canada last year. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau claimed that “agents of the Indian government” may have been involved in the killing. India has denied the claims and has repeatedly asked Canada to provide evidence for its allegations.

Trudeau’s remarks in the Canadian parliament last September triggered a huge diplomatic row between the two countries.

Meanwhile, New Delhi has repeatedly claimed that extrajudicial assassinations on foreign soil are “contrary” to its policies, despite allegations made by Canada, the US, and neighboring Pakistan.

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April 30, 2024 at 03:18PM
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