Foreign Relations & International Law

Justice Department Indicts Indian National for Attempted Murder of Sikh Activist

Matt Gluck
Wednesday, November 29, 2023, 1:10 PM

The Justice Department unsealed an indictment of an Indian national for his alleged participation in a murder-for-hire plot to assassinate a Sikh activist in New York City.

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On Nov. 29, the Justice Department unsealed a superseding indictment of an Indian national, Nikhil Gupta, in connection with his involvement in a failed plot to kill a U.S. citizen who is a Sikh activist. The government alleges in the indictment that Gupta, an Indian national who lives in India, sought to orchestrate the killing of the Sikh activist, unnamed in the indictment but identified by U.S. officials as Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, in New York City in May and June of this year at the direction of an Indian government employee. Pannun reportedly serves as the general counsel for the New York-based organization Sikhs for Justice—which advocates for the secession of the majority-Sikh northern Indian state of Punjab. According to the indictment, Gupta offered an individual whom he believed was a criminal associate, but was in fact a U.S. confidential source working for the Drug Enforcement Administration, $100,000 to murder the Sikh activist. Gupta is alleged to have instructed the supposed assassin not to commit the murder around the time of high-level political engagements between the U.S. and India. The defendant was arrested at the end of June in the Czech Republic at the United States’s request. 

This indictment follows the June killing of another advocate of Sikh separatism, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, in British Columbia, Canada. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has accused India of orchestrating that assassination, though the Indian government has denied involvement. 

You can read the indictment here or below:

Matt Gluck is a research fellow at Lawfare. He holds a BA in government from Dartmouth College.

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