US says reported India spy agency's role in murder plots 'a serious matter'

The White House has said it viewed the reported role of the Indian intelligence service in two assassination plots in Canada and the United States as a serious matter. (Photo/AP Archive)

The White House has said it viewed the reported role of the Indian intelligence service in two assassination plots in Canada and the United States as a serious matter.

"This is a serious matter, and we're taking that very, very seriously," White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Monday.

"We're going to continue to raise our concerns."

The Washington Post on Monday reported that an officer in India's intelligence service was directly involved in a foiled plan to assassinate a US citizen and one of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's most vocal critics in the United States, and the separate shooting death of a Sikh leader last June in Canada.

The Post alleged that Vikram Yadav, an officer of India's infamous Research and Analysis Wing [RAW], had orchestrated the failed assassination plot of Gurpatwant Singh Pannun by enlisting a "hit team" to carry out the operation.

US officials previously named the target of the attempted murder as Pannun, a Sikh separatist and dual citizen of the United States and Canada.

Pannun is the general counsel of Sikhs for Justice, a group that India labelled an "unlawful association" in 2019, citing its involvement in "extremist activities."

Subsequently, in 2020, India listed Pannun as an "individual terrorist".

Assassinations in Canada and Pakistan

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in September directly linked New Delhi to the killing of another Sikh separatist in the country, Canadian citizen Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

After Trudeau went public with his allegations, India denied the charges and responded furiously, briefly curbing visas for Canadians and forcing Ottawa to withdraw diplomats.

Canada also suspended negotiations for a free-trade agreement with India.

Washington was more reserved in its assessment of New Delhi's potential involvement in the Pannun case, saying only that an Indian government official was allegedly involved in the planning.

New Delhi has long been unhappy over Sikh separatist activity in Canada and US. Nijjar supported creating a Sikh homeland in the form of an independent, so-called country of Khalistan in India's northern state of Punjab, the birthplace of the Sikh religion, which borders Pakistan.

Canada has the highest population of Sikhs outside their home state of Punjab in India, and the country has been the scene of many demonstrations that have irked India.

In January this year, Pakistan's top diplomat in a news conference claimed that his country has "credible evidence" of Indian government's involvement in killings in the country.

Last month, British news outlet The Guardian claimed in an explosive investigation that agents of New Delhi's RAW, had been involved in up to 20 extrajudicial killings of individuals in Pakistan since 2020.

The report included statements by intelligence officers from India and Pakistan, documents shared by Pakistani researchers, and allegations about how India began to organise assassinations abroad — from its sleeper cells in UAE and elsewhere — under a change in national security policy after 2019.

Reacting to the Guardian story, Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said India has a policy of eliminating anti-New Delhi "terrorists" abroad and that "Pakistan has also started understanding" India's capabilities.


Source: TRT