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Assassination plot against a Sikh: the United States indicts an Indian national | Tensions between India and Canada

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The American indictment reveals information according to which assassinations were also planned in Canada. In June, protesters gathered in Vancouver following the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, president of a Sikh temple in Surrey. (Archive photo)

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The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday unsealed an indictment against Nikhil Gupta, an Indian national, for his alleged participation in a foiled plot to assassinate a United States citizen in New York who publicly advocated for the creation of a sovereign state for the Sikhs.

The act reveals several reports according to which assassinations were also planned in Canadian soil.

In a statement, the DOJ alleges that in or around May 2023, an unnamed Indian government employee allegedly recruited Nikhil Gupta to orchestrate the assassination of the target in the United States.

At the direction of the government employee, Nikhil Gupta allegedly contacted an individual he believed to be a criminal associate for assistance in hiring a hitman to murder the victim in New York. The individual was actually a confidential source working with the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), according to the DOJ.

After providing personal information and surveillance photographs of the person targeted to the undercover agent, Nikhil Gupta allegedly asked him to commit the murder as soon as possible, the DOJ continues.

Tensions between India and Canada

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Tensions between India and Canada

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However, he would have given him specific instructions not to commit the murder at the time when meetings were planned between representatives of the American and Indian governments. This period appears to coincide with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Washington in June 2023.

On June 18, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, the president of a Sikh temple in Surrey, a suburb of Vancouver, British Columbia, was shot and killed in the building's parking lot.

According to the DOJ, the next day, Nikhil Gupta told the undercover agent that, in light of the murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, there was no longer any need to wait to kill the victim in the United States and that it was a priority.

The indictment further states that Nikhil Gupta allegedly told the undercover agent in an audio call that they had four jobs to complete by June 29, one to New York and three in Canada.

The DOJ says Nikhil Gupta, 52, was charged with murder for hire, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years' imprisonment, and conspiracy to commit murder for hire, also carries a maximum sentence of 10 years

For its part, the Indian government announced on Wednesday that it will investigate the allegations contained in the act American.

None of the allegations have yet been proven in court.

More details to come

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