May 27, 2024

Moon Desk: A prominent Sikh activist who was reportedly the target of a foiled assassination attempt on US soil has accused India of “transnational terrorism” after Washington raised concerns the Indian government may have had knowledge of the plot.

The Financial Times reported on Wednesday that the US had thwarted the plot to kill Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, an American and Canadian citizen, after the June murder of another Sikh separatist leader, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, in a Vancouver suburb.

“The foiled attempt on my life on American soil by the Indian agents is transnational terrorism which is a threat to the US sovereignty, freedom of speech and democracy, so I will let the US government respond to this threat,” Pannun said in a statement to the Guardian, adding India was “using mercenaries” to target and kill Sikh activists who support calls for an independent Sikh homeland.

Pannun said his focus “is not threats to my life” but instead on organizing an upcoming symbolic separatist referendum in San Francisco.

Washington has raised concerns with New Delhi that the Indian government may have had knowledge of the plot.

It was unclear when or how US officials became aware of the plot or how the alleged assassination was derailed, but the White House said it was taking the allegations seriously.

A White House spokesperson, Adrienne Watson, said in a statement that Indian officials “expressed surprise and concern” at the accusations, suggesting extraterritorial assassinations were “not their policy”.

“We understand the Indian government is further investigating this issue and will have more to say about it in the coming days. We have conveyed our expectation that anyone deemed responsible should be held accountable,” said Watson.

The protest to Delhi was registered after the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, was welcomed on a state visit by the US president, Joe Biden, in June, the report said.

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